One of the North’s leading theatres is in a mess, with dozens of jobs at risk. Today, the Arts Council tells The Mill that continuing to fund the Coliseum poses “a significant risk”.
A lot of careful research has obviously gone into producing this. It feels like great journalism to me: insightful, balanced and well-informed. Thanks for publishing. It’s unusual and very refreshing to read an article dealing with a complex issue where a journalist states openly that they haven’t been able to get to the bottom of one particular strand of the story - such openness about methodology gives the piece extra authority - especially in a piece like this which contains so much careful detail. But what engaged me above all were the human touches, the joy of theatre represented by the 8-year old boy shouting out from the balcony, and the bleakness of the long silence where the chief executive/artistic director had to give the theatre’s staff the sad news.
I was Oldham Council's arts officer in the early 90's and even then plans were being made to build a new building for the Coliseum as part of a cultural quarter and I know that there have been several subsequent attempts to do this.
However one issue that you've not touched on is the understandable reluctance of both people involved with the company and audiences to leave leave such a beautiful building despite it's shortcomings and decrepitude
What a shame, another Wetherspoons I imagine.
I have a couple of questions.
1) Why did they lose the Arts Council grant?
2) Did they really put anything on to attract their ethnic (mostly Pakistani) prospective customers?
Many theatre goers don’t always enjoy new and experimental productions.
Look at the recent success of the touring ‘An Inspector calls’ and ‘The Mousetrap’. What’s wrong with a bit of Shakespeare - always popular, especially if you stage whatever play the kids are studying. They’d have schools from all over the North West attending.
They don’t have to be The Royal Exchange.
Why aren’t they supporting keeping the theatre open? I suppose they’ll get another modern building with no soul.
Surely they could say close the back of the theatre off if it’s just too big. A clever architect could come up with something.
Such a bloody, sodding, waste.
Thanks for this article. The prospect of closure of this much loved theatre is heart wrenching but you gave us a range of perspectives. Let’s hope that the team is rehoused whilst a new Coliseum theatre rises like a phoenix.
Interesting read - I’ve been trying to make sense of what has gone wrong and this really helps.
I was involved in the previous potential for Oldham Council providing a new theatre but as a part of that a new governance structure and executive team approach was required. For a number of reasons I won’t go into this could not be achieved although the opportunity was there…