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Oldham Coliseum plans £30m move to new arts centre

Architect's impressions of the proposed new location for Oldham Coliseum
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Oldham Coliseum Theatre has revealed it is planning to relocate to a new £30 million arts and heritage centre.

Proposals for the centre have been drawn up by Oldham Coliseum Theatre in conjunction with Oldham Council, and have been submitted for planning permission. The plans include a 550-seat theatre and a 100-seat studio, which would become the new home for Coliseum productions.

The theatre’s artistic director Kevin Shaw told The Stage: “For some time, we’ve recognised that the Coliseum is a very old building, and nearing the end of its life.”

He continued: “Predominantly, it’s about facilities for both audiences, and our technical teams. At the beautiful, lovely theatre we currently occupy, the front of house areas are very restricted, there’s limited rehearsal and education outreach space. We will be able to use this brilliantly designed new facility to continue producing the high-quality theatre for which we are renowned.”

The Coliseum’s existing building in Oldham previously underwent a £2 million renovation in 2012 to improve facilities and eliminate asbestos, but Shaw explained those works were only “a plan to get us through the next 10 years”.

A bid has been made for £4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with a separate bid made to Arts Council England for £5 million earlier this year. Both applications are in the second round, with decisions expected in the spring. The theatre also plans to undertake its own fundraising.

If the project is funded and receives planning permission, construction is expected to start on the new building in 2016, with hopes the new Oldham Coliseum will open in early 2018.

It is also hoped the Coliseum’s current building will remain open as a music venue or a restaurant, possibly in affiliation with the new arts centre.

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