Message from Duncan Craig OBE, Chair of Trustees (29.09.23)

I’m not sure what season it is as I write this September update - I know when I started writing it the heavens had opened and it was freezing, but within the hour it seemed to be shining bright sunshine and as I looked out of the window I saw people with shorts on.

September has been a mixed month as we began the process of rebuilding our organisation while ensuring we continue to handle the building closure and redundancy process with care and diligence. If you’ve been on this journey with us from the beginning, you’ll know it’s been a tough one and, as I have said multiple times, I cannot describe how close we were to a complete wind up and closure. But we staved that off, have re-calibrated and are now on the path to the Coliseum’s re-birth. 

Last month, as you know, we welcomed three new Board members in Martina, Kyle and Jo, all of which have very strong connections to the Coliseum and to Oldham. At the start of the month, the board met for the first time with our new Trustee colleagues which was great. It felt really good to begin bringing in different skill sets and different knowledge and experience.

As I said in my last update, I have to ensure that the board has the right balance of skills and knowledge and is representative of the community it serves. We’re not there yet so recruitment is ongoing and our local CVS, Action Together, will be there to help us in the task of reviewing the board membership and supporting us in the recruitment of new trustees. 


This month our Interim Chief Executive Lauren shared her outline of a strategic business plan that is in its embryonic stage of development. It’s clear to me and the rest of the Board that key to that plan is continuing to produce high quality, life changing theatre in Oldham, with artists at all stages of their careers. Around the making process we want to work collaboratively with schools and community partners to grow and nurture an audience that reflects Oldham and its changing demographics. 

Our small team of freelance professionals have begun putting systems in place to support the Coliseum’s new chapter. We plan to really get underneath audience and other data to be better able to begin seeing what worked and what didn’t. This means engaging with audiences and artists to understand what Coliseum audiences saw, liked, didn’t like, and want for the future. 

Lauren has been engaged in meeting theatre companies, artists and community organisers that are connected to the Coliseum and is now beginning to meet and build relationships with a wider community of artists and collaborators. Although the current team is still very small, we’ve updated our contact page to better show artists, audiences and collaborators how to get in touch.

The board were really excited about moving forward and can certainly see how Oldham Coliseum can grow again to offer great theatre to audiences in Oldham, across Greater Manchester and beyond.


I started this Chair’s update because I wanted to be both accountable and transparent at a time of crisis.    

Now it's time for me to retire this monthly update and move into supporting our small team to realise our plans for the future. As a Board, I want to focus our attention on the governance of the organisation and the planning and detail of our new home.

So if you haven’t already, please also sign up to our newsletter via the banner on this page as this is where we’ll begin announcing our plans, events and productions. Thank you for all your support through these times and here's to a brilliant and bright future for your Oldham Coliseum.

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