Oldham Coliseum: Greater Manchester theatre cancels shows after losing Arts England funding

The century-old theatre in Oldham will be without Arts England funding from April
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Oldham’s Coliseum Theatre has announced that all performances from March 26 onwards have been cancelled. This follows news last year that the theatre would not receive any more funding from Arts England.

The theatre, which has been active for 135 years, gave a grounding to many future soap stars including Barbara Knox (Rita Sullivan), William Roache (Ken Barlow) and Anne Kirkbride (Deirdre Barlow).

The shows cancelled include the Spring-Summer programme. Also forced to be cancelled is the theatre’s 2023-24 pantomime Sleeping Beauty.

After sharing the news on Twitter, the theatre received many messages of support. Comedian Mark Watson tweeted to say: “This is a terrible shame. I hope there’ll be a way to put you back on your feet before too long.”

A fundraiser page to save the theatre has also been started by an Oldham local. At the time of writing, it had raised over £1700.

The theatre posted a long and detailed statement on their website. They explained the reason behind the cancellations and how they worked to continue the programme.

A spokesperson said: “Following the news on November 4 2022 that the Coliseum will no longer be part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio from April 1 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.

The Oldham Coliseum Theatre (Photo: Google Maps)The Oldham Coliseum Theatre (Photo: Google Maps)
The Oldham Coliseum Theatre (Photo: Google Maps)

“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.”

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