Oldham Coliseum Theatre has been awarded £243,000 as part of the government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
The theatre on Fairbottom Street is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support.
£257 million of investment was announced on Monday as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.
With a history stretching back 135 years, Oldham Coliseum Theatre is one of the oldest professional producing theatres in the UK.
Its year-round programme of drama, music and comedy includes award-winning in-house productions, a nationally renowned annual pantomime and top comedians, including BGT finalist Steve Royle, performing in a more intimate setting.
Off-stage, the theatre works with people of all ages and backgrounds from across Oldham’s diverse communities, offering support, training and a safe space to explore their creativity.
Chris Lawson, Artistic Director of Oldham Coliseum Theatre, said: "We’re thrilled to receive this grant from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund. Culture creates jobs, supports livelihoods and brings joy to everyone, it is paramount in supporting our mental and emotional health. The Coliseum lies at the heart of Oldham’s community and is a key aspect of Greater Manchester’s cultural offering.
"There’s still a way to go before we can reopen the Coliseum fully but thanks to this investment we can ensure that our theatre survives this crisis and is here to continue its vital role for generations to come."
Despite closing its doors on 16 March due to the coronavirus crisis, the Coliseum has continued to reach out and engage with its audiences and participants; producing and sharing great art and opportunities to be creative online, and from a safe social distance.
The theatre plans to re-open its doors to socially distanced audiences for the first live performance since March with a sold-out performance of local company Dare to Know Theatre’s debut play, Drowning on 12 November, followed by innovative Virtual Reality theatre Petrichor from award-winning ThickSkin Theatre on 20 and 21 November.
Further Covid-safe socially distanced events are planned for the autumn and winter months, with details to be announced in due course.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.
“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”
Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England, said: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”