Best seat in the house – and it could have your name on it

ARE you sitting comfortably? Well, you definitely will be if ambitious plans for the hub of Saddleworth’s thriving arts scene come to fruition.

Mayor of Oldham Cllr Javid Iqbal with his daughter Smeaha Iqbal and the Pantomime Dame for Jack and Beanstalk, Scott Worsfold

Last month the Independent exclusively revealed details of Millgate Arts Centre’s auditorium refurbishment appeal. 

Our story immediately generated interest among the community keen to preserve and improve the home of Saddleworth Players since 1972.

Now the project to raise £50,000 to  extensively renovate the 160-seat community cultural hot spot, previously the village Co-op, is officially launched. 

Once completed, the Delph theatre will be the envy of Oldham borough and beyond.

Additionally, the collective is raising another five-figure sum for urgent roof repairs before the internal work can commence. 

That bid has received a great start with Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership approving a £4,000 grant. 

Once the roof is back in tip-top shape the refurbishment of the auditorium, set for next year, can start.

This will entail installing a new ceiling, lighting, carpets and “comfortable 21st Century seating”.

The current seats are second-hand Edwardian Cinema seats installed 35 years ago. 

Mayor of Oldham Cllr Javid Iqbal with his daughter Smeaha Iqbal (centre) with John and Poppy Tanner

Long serving supporter and cast member John Tanner is leading the appeal with Andrew Mann.

“Oldham Coliseum is moving to what will be a fantastic place but we want to be known as the best for amateur dramatics,” said John. 

“We want to have the best auditorium experience in the area.”

Now the curtain has risen on the appeal, Saddleworth residents can contribute in a variety of ways, including supporting two specific events in the 2018-19 schedule.

On Saturday, September 8, all proceeds from Millgate Night at the Proms will be donated to the appeal. Tickets cost £12 including a champagne reception and classic Proms entertainment from local soloists, Miriam Lawton, Martin Bradbury and Friends.

Kenneth Alan Taylor, British Pantomime writer, discusses forthcoming production of A Christmas Carol

At last month’s Millgate open evening, Dream Factory Theatre revealed the cost of bringing their Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime (December 15-31) will cost £37,000.

Despite that, the independent company has agreed to donate some of the ticket revenue towards the appeal. So, get buying those tickets!

Additionally, centre goers can sponsor a new chair for as little as £10 per month over 15 months or a one-off contribution of £150.

Supporters will receive a plaque on the chair chosen, a certificate of thanks, regular Friends of the Auditorium newsletter and priority booking at the beginning of the season.

For further details of how to get involved contact Ian Shepherd (01457 874644), treasurer David Shipp (01457 875171 or or go online.

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