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Oldham Coliseum dramatically saved

THEATRE OPENING THIS WAY: Julie, Ian and Oldham Council Leader Cllr Arooj Shah hail the return of the Oldham Coliseum.

Oldham Coliseum has been dramatically saved, it has just been announced this evening.

A big party is underway now in the streets around the theatre to celebrate the news.

Actor Julie Hesmondhalgh and writer Ian Kershaw, who spearheaded the ‘Save the Coliseum’ campaign as part of a dedicated group of theatre lovers from the Oldham community, made the announcement outside the theatre.

“The public outcry that followed last year's closure of Oldham's beloved Coli, from audiences and artists alike, made national news," said Julie.

“Since then, a dedicated group of campaigners have been working tirelessly to fight for the jewel in Oldham’s crown to be reopened and restored to her former glory.

“It is because of a board dedicated to the continuance of the Coliseum's cultural offer, the passion and persistence of a dogged band of campaigners, and a council willing to listen to its citizens, that we’ve arrived at this point.”

Ian Kershaw, BAFTA, Bruntwood award-winning writer and ‘Oldham-er’, added: “The legendary, internationally famous Oldham Coliseum is the town's beating heart of art and culture.

“Audience members from Oldham, and across the country, have joined us to urge the people in power to think again. This event is a celebration of a passionate campaign and marks an incredible moment in the fight to save our theatre."

They revealed that the Coliseum will re-open ready for the big panto production the theatre is famous for at the end of next year.

While the serious work of making the theatre a viable venue ready to host professional shows will begin immediately.

TIME TO CELEBRATE: Julie and Ian inside the Coliseum earlier this afternoon. New seats will be needed - the former seating having gone to Guide Bridge Theatre in Audenshaw.

Julie, from Broadbottom, and Ian said the theatre offer would also be fully inclusive of the wider community too, the Coliseum having become a venue for numerous Tameside groups in the past.

Tonight’s party features a brass band, performances, dancing and more with local bars and restaurants, which have suffered since the Coliseum’s closure, providing the food and beverages for the street party.

Members of Oldham Council, who are supporting the event, and board members of the Oldham Coliseum will be in attendance, the community-driven street party highlighting the Coliseum's significance as a cultural landmark, and celebrating its efforts to secure the theatre's future.

Oldham Council Leader Cllr Arooj Shah has been instrumental in backing the campaign to save the theatre, stating the council had ‘listened’ to the people.

She said funding had been found for the decision and the pop up Oldham Coliseum theatre offer will continue this summer to offer shows this summer, but the curtains had closed on plans to build a new Coliseum elsewhere.

The Save the Coliseum team recently created a short film entitled Our Sleeping Beauty as part of the campaign, which features a selection of well-known faces from the world of stage, film and television including Suranne Jones, Shobna Gulati, Christopher Eccleston, and Maxine Peake ~ who have all supported the campaign.

The focus of the film is a poignant poem written and performed by Julie Hesmondhalgh and backed by Zoe Hodges' original music score. Our Sleeping Beauty also includes historical footage spanning the Coliseum's storied past, edited by Zoe Hodges, Andonis Anthony and Grant Archer. 

Julie will be reciting this poem ~ an ode to the much-cherished ‘Coli ~ during tonight’s street party event.

RETURN: The Theatre will be back in the spotlight next year when the pantomime for 2025 will be the first show to grace the stage when the venue reopens.

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