Message from Chair of Trustees, Duncan Craig OBE (20.06.23)

Welcome to June’s (slightly late) update from the Board at Oldham Coliseum Theatre.


Firstly, I want to thank everyone for all your messages in response to our announcement last month, that we have agreed to become the anchor tenants in Oldham’s new theatre. As so many of you have commented, the road to get there is long, but we want to travel it together, with you, and we are determined to get to our new house and make it a home for everyone.


The new theatre is due to be completed on Greaves Street in 2026, and we continue to be part of the discussions with key stakeholders across Oldham and Greater Manchester, ensuring we are part of the design process and can influence any decision making that will eventually affect the running of the new theatre once it opens.


With such large projects there is so much to decide and agree. Up to now the proposed designs and plans have been shaped through research and conversations, with schools and colleges, with local artists and theatre makers and many of the groups that occupied the Coliseum’s stage at one time or another. However, now we can begin to increase the list of people who can consider the plans, give opinions, and think of ideas... by adding YOU!


You can view the plans at Gallery Oldham from 4:00pm on Tuesday 27 June and throughout this public consultation period until Monday 3 July. On display will be the architects’ designs, layouts and other drawings and information for all to see.


I will attend on Tuesday 27 June and hopefully chat with others that are there too. I’m fascinated to hear what you think and get ideas that I can take back to the board that will help us shape our ideas for the theatre, both how we will operate the new building and what people want from our productions – whilst we’ll be in a new home, we mustn’t forget that we are a producing theatre.




Whilst we’re engaging in conversations about the future, I also want to ensure that we remember we are also in the very final stages of saying goodbye to our remaining team, as we come to the end of the building’s winding up plans, and we’re close to handing the keys back to Oldham Council.


I know I have said this before, but I cannot describe to you just how professional and compassionate this group of amazing individuals have been through this whole period. They have ensured that the wardrobe is safe; provided so many local theatres and groups with props and equipment; ensured that other professional performance spaces get to utilise equipment; delivered drinks and snacks to foodbanks; and ice-creams to local schools for their Coronation Parties, ensuring nothing goes to waste. They even found a number of old boxes that contained real fur, which have now gone to PETA as part of their fur amnesty program.


I would like to express my personal gratitude to the whole team, for the sheer graft they have all put into this.




I know many of you will want an update on the two reports we have commissioned. First of all, the review of the Fairbottom Street building that has been carried out by Plann is now concluding and once the report is finished it will be published on Plann’s website and shared on ours too.


Action Together have been busy trawling through previous Board papers, governance reviews that were undertaken over a number of years, and minutes and notes from key meetings. I have ensured that Liz Windsor-Welsh and the team at Action Together has access to whatever information they feel is needed and we’re hopeful that this report will be ready in July.


I want to again emphasise and remind you that whilst we invited Plann and Action Together to carry out the reviews, we have no control over the content, outcomes and recommendations. They are truly independent of us, Arts Council England and Oldham Council. Once we have confirmation by Plann and Action Together of the date of publication, we will let everyone know.




We are still interested in hearing from people who wish to have a conversation about becoming a Trustee. Oldham has such a diverse population and that should be represented at Board level. Take a look at the Charities Commission ‘Essential Trustee’ guide and if you feel you have the skills, time, commitment and enthusiasm, then email me at with your CV and a covering letter detailing why you want to become a trustee and what skills you could bring, and lets take it from there.




That’s all I have to update you on this month. I would encourage you to get involved in the consultation process, have your say, and help the architects build a new theatre that is right for Oldham and the Greater Manchester arts and culture scene.


Maybe if you do go on the opening afternoon, I’ll see you there.

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