The latest vision for the new Oldham Coliseum Theatre has been released today. Oldham Council and Oldham Coliseum Theatre have been working on a redesign with Mecanoo, the project architects, following the addition of plans for a studio theatre and feedback on the initial proposals.
The new theatre is part of a phased project designed to place it amongst the borough’s other cultural jewels just yards from the Oldham Central Metrolink stop. It will be located alongside a new Heritage and Arts Centre linked with Gallery Oldham, Library and Lifelong Learning Centre.
The new Coliseum will be built on the Southgate Street car park site next to the grade-II listed former library building, which will house the Heritage and Arts Centre. Designs now incorporate a 170-seat studio theatre in addition to a main auditorium for 500 people.
Francesco Veenstra, partner at project architects, Mecanoo said: “The design for the new Coliseum Theatre aims to provide Oldham with a platform for artistic expression – professional performers and community participants – that is welcoming to all. We wanted to capture the ‘spirit of the Coliseum’ by creating an intimate and cosy atmosphere for theatregoers as well as state of the art facilities for performers, technicians and other Coliseum staff. Oldham’s rich history as a cotton weaving powerhouse is reflected in the building’s architecture, with the brick pattern referencing cotton designs that were created in Oldham.”
Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Leader, said: “It’s great to be able to share these latest designs with the public. The Cultural Quarter project is the next vital step in regenerating Oldham town centre and making it a destination that residents can be proud of with better facilities and preserved heritage. Building a new home for the Coliseum Theatre is absolutely central to these plans. It will secure their future prospects and new audiences, and also help us attract a new type of visitor to town through a great arts, culture and leisure offer.”
Kevin Shaw, Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s Chief Exectuive and Artistic Director, said: “We’re delighted as this very exciting project takes a further step forward. This move, the second in our 132 year history, sees the Coliseum inhabit a purpose built theatre that will enable us to build on our strengths, realise our rich potential and make even more ambitious theatre for our audiences from Oldham and beyond.
“In our new home, we’ll continue to produce an enhanced range of excellent quality accessible theatre with a broad appeal. The new building’s specially created studio theatre will enable us to introduce new activity including; producing home grown small scale theatre, attracting a wide range of visiting productions and providing increased opportunities to participate in the performing arts for the whole of Oldham. Our commitment to our existing and new audiences remains – we’ll continue to deliver our fantastic productions and there will be even more opportunities for participants to engage with the theatre. We will take our famous warm welcome with us and ensure that coming to the Coliseum is a rewarding experience for everyone.”
Ian Tabbron, Senior Relationship Manager at Arts Council England, said: “The Coliseum will form part of a cluster of new buildings that will provide an exceptional cultural offer for all the people of Oldham. The Arts Council is pleased to be able support Oldham Council in investing in such an outstanding set of economic, educational and artistic assets for the town.”
Mecanoo are committed to prioritising the local supply chain throughout this project and – in support of Oldham Council’s Get Oldham Working campaign – are delivering an employment and skills strategy to focus on young people in the borough, improving links with local education providers and exploring the opportunity to create apprenticeships.
The project was given the green light after a successful joint funding bid by Oldham Council and Oldham Coliseum Theatre secured a £7.1m National Lottery-funded capital grant from Arts Council England towards the project.
Subject to planning approval, construction work is anticipated to start in April 2018 with the new Coliseum set to open in 2020.