Oldham Coliseum Theatre cancels upcoming shows after funding cut by Arts Council

  • Video report by Granada Reports Journalist Jahmal Williams-Thomas

One of the oldest theatres in the country has announced it is cancelling all its upcoming shows and events as well as its annual pantomime - because of funding issues.

Oldham's Coliseum Theatre says it follows the news its funding was dropped by Arts Council England (ACE) after the organisation said it was no longer part of its portfolio.

It has relied on the support of ACE to continue to stage performances, but in November a decision by ACE meant the theatre was left with a funding gap of almost £2 million.

The theatre said despite trying to find a solution to a reduction in funding, its current financial situation was "not sustainable".

All events will now be cancelled from 26 March.

"The current financial situation is not sustainable for the season as planned," the Coliseum said.

"We are working with Arts Council England and Oldham Council to honour agreements with artists and producing partners.

"It has been an incredibly difficult decision to cancel the programme of events and we understand the disappointment this will undoubtedly cause."

The Coliseum opened in 1885, and is considered one of the oldest theatres still operating in Britain.

In November former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh joined union members to protest the funding cut.

Equity Union members have visited Arts Council England’s (ACE) Manchester office, demanding the reversal of what they describe as "devastating" funding cuts to arts organisations across the UK, including the Coliseum.

A decision by the Arts Council has left the theatre with a funding gap of almost £2 million, putting its future in doubt. Credit: ITV Granada

At the time the Arts Council England says: "This year, Arts Council England, received a record-breaking number of applications to our 2023-26 Investment Programme, many of them good.

"As a result, we have had to make difficult decisions. 

"We really value the work of Oldham Coliseum Theatre, and have supported it through our funding programmes over a long period of time.

"We’re committed to supporting the cultural offering in Oldham, and are working with Oldham Council on development opportunities for the town."

Ticket holders for all other events will be refunded.

Any donations made to the theatre when booking tickets for cancelled events and Coliseum members whose memberships are due to expire after 26 March will also be refunded.

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