Message from Chair of Trustees, Duncan Craig OBE (16.05.23)

Welcome to May’s update from the new Oldham Coliseum Board – and this month, we have some news to report.


We’re announcing today that we’ve agreed to be the anchor tenant for Oldham Council’s new purpose-built theatre, scheduled to open in 2026 on Greaves Street.


At the same time, we’ve taken up a seat at the table of the Council’s Performance Space Partnership Board with a view to supporting the development of the new space and its inner workings. We’ve also been working closely with Oldham Council on supporting the development of their proposal to Arts Council England (ACE) for the £1.84m funding to deliver a cultural programme across the borough between now and the opening of the new building, which the Coliseum will lead.


We’ve started considering how a new venue could operate in Oldham – how we could commission and produce new work and how we could collaborate with other arts organisations and community groups. Watch this space (I think it’s pretty damn exciting as there’s so many opportunities)!


There is still the cultural programme to map out and once the funding is confirmed we’re pretty sure that many discussions will be had and we’ll be part of those discussions with other key stakeholders, and when we know then we’ll announce what part we will play in that offer.


With this news, we also feel that it’s the right time to expand our Board. We’re especially interested in hearing from people from the array of diverse communities in Oldham as we want a truly representative board. I can say from personal experience that being a Trustee is incredibly rewarding, but it can take up time and there is an important set of legal duties you have to be aware of. Take a look at the Charities Commission ‘Essential Trustee’ guide which will give you all the information you need. If you’re interested in becoming a Trustee, then email me via with your CV and a covering letter detailing why you want to become a trustee and what skills you could bring.




I’m also delighted to give you an update on the two independent reports we announced last month.


The review of the Fairbottom Street building is currently being carried out by Plann, a multi-disciplinary consultancy that helps theatres with building projects. Plann is a leader in its field, and I’m very glad that it has agreed to carry out the review. Whilst we cannot turn back, I hope by conducting the reviews it will give some answer to the questions that have been asked around the closure.


Meanwhile, we have invited Action Together to carry out an independent review into the governance, performance and decisions made by the general and wider leadership of Oldham Coliseum Theatre. The review is looking to develop a more detailed understanding of how the Coliseum ended up in the position it did, as well as setting out recommendations to ensure the same mistakes aren’t made again.


It's important to emphasise that these reviews are both transparent and independent. We’ve invited Plann and Action Together to carry out the reviews, but my fellow Board members and I have no control over their content, outcomes and recommendations. Both reports will be published independently of Oldham Coliseum Theatre, Arts Council England and Oldham Council, hopefully in June/July.




We’ve also been continuing the closure of Fairbottom Street – returning items we were leasing; offering props and furniture to other theatre companies; passing on our full wardrobe to the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, to be returned to us when needed; and donating other equipment to organisations across Oldham, Greater Manchester and the North West.


As you may have seen on social media, we’ve donated kiosk stock to the Oldham Foodbank, and provided ice cream to various schools and other groups for their Coronation celebrations. We’ve also had our first visit from the archivists at Oldham Libraries, who’ll ensure the preservation and safe keeping of any items with significant social history.


All this work has been carried out by the Coliseum’s incredible staff. While the remaining staff continue working to close the building before the summer, we’ve now said goodbye to many members of the Coliseum team – and I want to reiterate my huge thank you for all they’ve done under such trying circumstances.




That’s all for this month – apart from to say thank you to the people of Oldham for all the kind words of encouragement and support you’ve shown us as we look to find a future for culture and the Coliseum in Oldham. And thank you, too, to Oldham Council, Arts Council England and the other organisations with whom we’re continuing to speak, work and collaborate. I look forward to updating you again this time next month.


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