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Oldham Coliseum board confirms closure

Oldham Coliseum - confirms closure after 138 years
Oldham Coliseum - confirms closure after 138 years

Oldham Coliseum has confirmed it will close on March 31, bringing to an end a proud tradition of local theatre stretching back to 1885.

The official announcement follows a formal period of consultation with staff, which in turn followed the Arts Council's decision late last year to remove it from National Portfolio Funding - the list of organisations receiving funding for three years at a time.

This decision prompted many famous figures to call for the decision to be reversed and the Coliseum's funding reinstated, with little success.

An official statement from the theatre board confirms the closure of a building that has revealed the talent of hundreds of famous actors over the years

"It is with deep sadness that we confirm the forthcoming closure of Oldham Coliseum Theatre and the beginning of a redundancy process that will affect all staff. 

"The board of trustees and senior leadership team have been determined to find a solution to this reduction in funding. NPO funding was a third of the Coliseum’s income. Its loss affects the ability of the organisation to apply for alternate funding, giving a financial situation not sustainable for the current continuation of the business."

Shows will cease after the final performance of the ironically-named How Not To Drown on March 25, though there is also a suggestion there might be a hastily-organised farewell event.

The statement continues that Coliseum staff remain a priority as the building is wound down

"The Coliseum is not the historic building so many have come to adore, it is the company that runs it and the people who fill its halls with memories," they say.

"We know the theatre’s closure is deeply upsetting for our audiences and participants, not least because of the joyful memories that hundreds of thousands of people from across the North West have of visiting the Coliseum to get involved in projects or to experience our home-produced plays, musicals and award-winning pantomimes.

"The outpouring of love for the theatre over the past weeks has been overwhelming, demonstrating the Coliseum’s impact on the communities of Oldham and further afield. To our audiences, industry colleagues, partners, sponsors, funders, patrons and friends – we cannot thank you enough for your support over more than a century of theatre."

Though the closure is devastating for those directly concerned and for fans of the Fairbottom Street theatre, Oldham Council has already presented plans for the construction of a new, smaller theatre without flying facilities or significant dressing rooms to replace it within the next handful of years. 

It is widely accepted that despite the spending of a significant amount of money on remedial works in 2012, the historic former circus building remains beyond its useful life and in need of replacement.

Few expected, however, that the transition would be so rapid or brutal, and so much history and tradition would be thrown out along with it…

These we have loved : some classic Coliseum productions from the past and present...


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