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Company unveils plans to operate on a smaller scale in non-theatre spaces ahead of moving to a new venue in 2026.

An artists' impression of the new theatre venue in Oldham - scheduled to be completed by 2026
Oldham Coliseum is due to be the anchor tenant of a new theatre venue in the town

Oldham Council

Oldham Coliseum theatre company will be handed more than £860,000 over the next three years to allow it to continue producing and performing theatre in the town and prepare for a planned move to a new home in 2026.

News of the funding comes five months after the closure of its former home on Fairbottom Street prompted by the loss of its regular funding from Arts Council England. 

The money - made up of £450,000 upfront and an additional £138,000 a year for the next three years - is coming from Oldham Council which was given the £1.845m that ACE would have given the Coliseum to "invest in Oldham’s arts and culture sector".


The Coliseum's Chair of Trustees, Duncan Craig, said the money has been specifically given to the theatre for it to produce, commission, create, and deliver work, as well as develop a new business model for when a proposed £24.5m theatre in the town is completed.

As a result of the funding award, Lauren Clancy, formerly Executive Director of the Bush Theatre, has been appointed as Oldham Coliseum's Interim Chief Executive. 

Craig said Clancy will lead ongoing work with Oldham Council in the development of the new theatre, as well as its interim theatre and arts offer, and the right structure to deliver it.

Performances in non-theatre spaces

He added that the lack of a permanent venue means that the theatre company will be required to work differently.

"We are extremely grateful to Oldham Council for this award as it will now allow us to continue as an organisation, focusing on our charitable objectives as a producing theatre," Craig said.

"However, it is important for me to acknowledge this will be in a very different model to how we previously delivered our work, including what was delivered in the Fairbottom Street building. 

"Firstly, as an organisation without a building, we will need to deliver performances in non-theatre spaces, and with less income than we had, we'll have to present work less frequently to begin with. 

"But, at the core of our work over the next three years, we have our eye on the development of a long-term plan to ensure we build a new, stronger and, very importantly, sustainable foundation as our tenancy in the new building begins."

The theatre's first work since its closure will take place later this month as part of Oldham-based Stand & Be Counted Theatre Company’s Secret Summer event on the weekend of 26 and 27 August.

It is also developing plans for the rest of the year by building on existing and developing new connections with organisations, including Oldham Theatre Workshop and the Women's Chai Project.

Meanwhile, two independent reviews commissioned by Oldham Coliseum - one into the condition of the Fairbottom Street site, and another into the root causes of the unsuccessful bid to ACE to remain a National Portfolio Organisation - will be published this month.