A campaign group to save Oldham’s Coliseum theatre has received the backing of huge names from the world of acting. Amongst the large list of names to lend their support are Sir Ian McKellen, Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peake.
The big names have signed a letter calling for the theatre to be saved. The venue has been closed since March 31 following the loss of all of its Arts Council England funding.
A survey carried out by independent contractors PLANN goes against Oldham Council’s findings that the theatre isn’t fit for purpose. This new report says that the building is in fact in good working order.
The theatre dates back to the Victorian era and had become a key feature of the community. Over the years it has hosted big names such as Charlie Chaplin, Ralph Fiennes and Sian Phillips.
In recent years it has become a key hosting venue in the town, providing a space for community groups. These include the Young People's and Elders' Groups as well as Roma Connections, Chai Women, and Khushi, which is an annual festival celebrating the creativity of Oldham's South Asian communities.
Plans for a new theatre in the town have been put forward, but these have been met with concerns from the campaign group. These concerns include sustainability and practicality as the proposed theatre would have a smaller stage, significantly fewer seats, no fly tower, and limited wing space.
In August, when plans for the new theatre were submitted, Leader of Oldham Council Arooj Shah, 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.
“We are absolutely committed to working with cultural organisations across Oldham, including the new Coliseum board, for the good of producing theatre in the borough. Oldham has such a fantastic heritage of theatre and production spanning back decades, so it’s important we continue this for future generations.
Dozens of big names from the acting industry have signed the letter. Some of the names to sign the letter are below:
Dame Sian Philips
Dame Vanessa Redgrave
Dame Emma Thompson
Sir Derek Jacobi
Imelda Staunton CBE
Jim Carter OBE
Dame Maureen Lipman
Sir Ian McKellen
Barbara Knox MBE
Dominic Cooke CBE
Marianne Elliot OBE
Shobna Gulati DL
Helen Worth MBE
Antony Cotton MBE
Sally Ann Matthews
Kenneth Alan Taylor