Oldham Coliseum set to close for good after historic theatre’s funding loss
Oldham Coliseum bosses have said that the theatre is likely to close its doors for good at the end of March after it lost out on its vital funding.
The historic theatre had been dropped from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio from 1 April, leaving it in a financial situation that was ‘not sustainable’.
The venue announced today with ‘great regret’ that it had entered into a consultation period with staff and proposed that Oldham Coliseum closes for good.
It had already cancelled all of its upcoming shows from 26 March onwards, including its 2023/24 pantomime Sleeping Beauty.
In an update shared with devastated followers today, Oldham Coliseum has said that the beloved theatre would close on Friday 31 March.
Shows until then will go ahead as planned, with ticket-holders refunded for any performances after that.
They wrote in a statement: “The Coliseum is working with Arts Council England and Oldham Council to ensure a smooth transition period for the company, including funding to enable support for our workforce and honouring commitments to artists.
“The Coliseum has been at the heart of theatre in Oldham for over 100 years, with a highly regarded history in the industry dating back to the Oldham Rep which launched the careers of many famous faces.
“Many of the Coliseum’s staff have lived in Oldham all their lives and worked with the company for over a decade. They are the priority for the company at this time.”
It also thanked ‘audiences, participants, sponsors, partners, funders, patrons, industry colleagues and friends’ for their support over the years.
One person said on Twitter: “I am so sorry to read this. A wonderful producing house, a theatre full of history. A great loss for Oldham and the industry. My thoughts to everyone involved.”
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Another wrote: “Breaks my heart. We’re destroying the British Theatre scene by ripping away cultural landmarks such as @OldhamColiseum deeply saddening.”
Someone else tweeted: “This is heartbreaking. Shame on the horrors who let this happen. Not only is this another blow for the people of Oldham and the live arts, it is another attack on freedom of thought and freedom of expression. Just where they want us.”
One comment on Facebook said: “This is devastating, not just for Oldham, but for Rochdale, Bury, and every town in this part of the North West. Its not just the wonderful productions, but the work the theatre does with the community that will be so sadly missed. It’s unbelievable that this is being allowed to happen.”
The full statement from Oldham Coliseum as it announces it will close:
Following the news on 4 November 2022 that Oldham Coliseum will no longer be part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio from 1 April 2023, the Board of Trustees and Senior Leadership Team have been working hard to find a solution to this reduction in funding. However, the current financial situation is not sustainable for the running of a full-time theatre. It is with great regret therefore that we announce that we have entered into a consultation period with all staff and it is proposed that Oldham Coliseum Theatre will close its doors on Friday 31 March 2023. The Coliseum is working with Arts Council England and Oldham Council to ensure a smooth transition period for the company, including funding to enable support for our workforce and honouring commitments to artists.
The Coliseum has been at the heart of theatre in Oldham for over 100 years, with a highly regarded history in the industry dating back to the Oldham Rep which launched the careers of many famous faces. Many of the Coliseum’s staff have lived in Oldham all their lives and worked with the company for over a decade. They are the priority for the company at this time.
All events at the Coliseum until Sunday 26 March will go ahead as planned. Ticket holders for all other events will be refunded over the coming weeks. If you have paid for tickets using a debit or credit card this will be refunded directly onto your card. If you have paid for tickets using cash the Box Office team will be in touch to arrange an alternate refund method. Any donations made to the theatre when booking tickets for cancelled events and Our Coliseum members whose memberships are due to expire after 26 March will also be refunded. The Coliseum asks audiences to be patient whilst staff work through each transaction manually.
The Coliseum would like to thank its audiences, participants, sponsors, partners, funders, patrons, industry colleagues and friends for their support over many years.
Featured image: Oldham Coliseum