Oldham Coliseum Theatre makes ‘incredibly difficult decision’ to cancel upcoming shows as funding is cut

Could it be curtains for one of Britain’s oldest theatres?

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 31st January 2023

Oldham Coliseum has been forced to take drastic measures after losing vital funding, announcing today that its entire Spring-Summer programme and its 2023 pantomime have been axed.

The beloved local theatre will cancel all its upcoming events and theatre shows, from Sunday 26 March onwards.

The news comes after the historic venue was dropped from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio from 1 April.

Oldham Coliseum said in a statement today that its board of trustees have been working hard to find a solution to the loss of funding, but has now had to take an ‘incredibly difficult decision’.

They added that ‘the current financial situation is not sustainable for the season as planned’.


Ticket-holders for cancelled shows, including their 2023/24 pantomime Sleeping Beauty, will be refunded automatically in the coming weeks.

The news has been met with dismay from the local community and those in the theatre world.


Hollyoaks star Annie Wallace said: “This was the news we’d been dreading. One of the north’s most important grassroots theatres, effectively killed off by the Arts Council withdrawing ALL funding. Remember… the Royal Opera House got £22 MILLION and still moaned about it. SAVE THIS THEATRE!”

Former MP Liz McInnes said: “This is tragic. @OldhamColiseum has been a part of Oldham life for literally as long as I can remember. I used to get taken to pantos there as a kid and grew up with a love of theatre. I do sincerely hope that funding is found – this is too important to just let it go.”

Theatre critic Mark Shenton posted: “What an ominous turn of events. @OldhamColiseum cancels all events after March 26, following the withdrawal of its @ace_national funding from April 2023. So ‘levelling up’ seems to mean losing a major theatre entirely.”


Someone else wrote: “Shocking that a theatre with such history and legacy must go dark. Hundreds of phenomenal actors, directors, writers and crew began their artistic journeys here. Stunned!!! I hope to see it rise again!”

The full statement from Oldham Coliseum:

Oldham Coliseum

“It is with great regret that Oldham Coliseum Theatre is cancelling all forthcoming events from Sunday 26 March 2023, including the Spring-Summer programme and the 2023-24 pantomime Sleeping Beauty.

“Following the news on 4 November 2022 that the 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.

“The theatre put the pantomime on sale in November and announced the Spring-Summer season in early December with the best possible intentions, while still exploring options that may have enabled the continuation of the programme. However, the current financial situation is not sustainable for the season as planned. We are working with Arts Council England and Oldham Council to honour agreements with artists and producing partners.

“All events at the Coliseum until 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.


“It has been an incredibly difficult decision to cancel the programme of events and we understand the disappointment this will undoubtedly cause. The Coliseum asks audiences to be patient whilst staff work through each refund transaction manually.”

Featured image: Oldham Coliseum