PLANS for a £24million theatre, set to be home for Oldham Coliseum at the heart of the town’s new cultural quarter, have been submitted.
The proposals are for a modern and accessible theatre, suitable for modern audiences while in keeping with Oldham’s history.
The theatre is set to be created in the historic Friends Meeting House and former Post Office, close to Gallery Oldham, the Old Library, the new home for Oldham Theatre Workshop and the site soon set to be Oldham’s new outdoor arts and performance space.
Plans include a main auditorium seating more than 300 people, a 120-seat studio theatre, an education suite, and all-day café bar areas, which can also be used as additional performance spaces.
Open from morning into the evening, the new theatre won’t just be a place for performances and theatre, but a place where people can meet up and socialise.
The plans have been shaped so far by Oldham Coliseum Theatre Ltd, theatre and arts experts, a range of partner organisations, local schoolchildren and members of the public.
Cllr Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “This is such an exciting next step for Oldham Coliseum, theatregoers in Oldham and beyond, and everyone involved who has helped bring this new theatre to life.
“As council leader, I’ve made it one of my top priorities to push plans for our new theatre forward as I know how important it is to the people who live here and visit the town.
“Oldham has such a fantastic heritage of theatre and production spanning back decades, so it’s important we continue this for future generations.
“It’s also important to remember this new space won’t just be a theatre; it will be a place that encourages people to come together with friends and family to get creative, socialise with one another and celebrate the arts.
“I personally can’t wait to see our new theatre throw open its doors.”
The design has been influenced by the surrounding historical buildings, and materials have been carefully selected to complement the architecture and make sure it all works as one.
A decision will be made on the application in November 2023.
Duncan Craig OBE, Chair of Trustees, Oldham Coliseum Theatre said: “This is yet another exciting step forward in a journey I feel now we’re all making together – that’s the council, the Coliseum and both Oldhamers and Greater Manchester theatre-goers.
“Our organisation’s commitment to producing and programming theatre is as alive as ever and the fact that we’re at the stage of submitting the plans for our new home really helps us begin to imagine the opening nights of future performances.
“Of course, there is still a journey ahead of us and the success of the theatre will only happen if we work together and show just exactly what a mighty Coliseum can be.”
This announcement follows the news that Oldham Council was successful in its proposal to Arts Council England to secure funding to deliver a cultural programme of events over the next three years.
Oldham Coliseum Theatre will receive £450,000 from this funding to specifically produce, commission, create, deliver, and develop a new business model.
Oldham Council also recently announced plans for a new public space in Oldham’s Cultural Quarter, meaning a new open area for arts and events is now set to be developed.
These plans are of Oldham’s much wider regeneration programme, creating a thriving, greener and more sustainable town centre for the future.
Developments include restoring the Old Library, a new market, new shops and leisure opportunities, a new town centre park and around 2,000 new homes – building a great place for businesses to thrive and a town centre where more people want to live, work and visit.
To find out more about the work taking place, visit: www.oldham.gov.uk/regen