Next generation have their say on new theatre plans for Oldham | Oldham Council
Theatre Published: Tuesday, 27th September 2022

Young people have been helping to shape plans for a brand-new theatre in Oldham.

Oldham Council is creating the theatre in heritage buildings on Union Street – providing a new home for Oldham Coliseum Theatre and additional, flexible, creative arts and performance spaces. 

Pupils from Burnley Brow Community School, Chadderton, and students from Oldham College were invited to put their stamp on the plans at workshops with the Coliseum and architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios). 

And, with the much-loved Coliseum attracting customers from across the region, the team also visited neighbouring Millbrook Primary, Stalybridge, to get feedback from the school’s Year 6 class. 

Oldham Council Leader, Amanda Chadderton, said: “We want our new theatre to be enjoyed by all ages – and it’s so important to always listen to the views of our young residents. 

“They have fantastic imaginations and often see things from a completely different perspective.  

“The workshops were a great opportunity to hear first-hand what matters most to them.  

“These young people are the future of our borough, and we are delighted to put them at the heart of this project.” 

At Burnley Brow, pupils aged 10 and 11 shared their thoughts and ideas on designs for the new venue using their creativity to imagine the future space and what it should feel like.

Over 50 performing arts students from Oldham College then had an insightful discussion about how theatres can become more accessible for everyone in the community.

Simon Branson , Partner at FCBStudios said: “The new theatre will be a key part of Oldham’s cultural quarter, and will shape the creative output of the area.

"The workshops were lively and full of the kind of insight that will help us to shape the spaces and facilities that will serve the next generation of theatre-goers, writers, actors and producers."

Olivia Race, Head of Learning & Engagement at Oldham Coliseum, said: “Through our comprehensive programme of work with local schools the Coliseum gives ownership of the theatre to young people from across the borough to share a lifelong love of the arts.

"It was an honour to share the plans for the Coliseum’s exciting next chapter with students and to hear what they want their theatre to look like in the future.” 

Oldham Coliseum Theatre has a proud history in the borough, but sadly its historic building is no longer fit for modern audience needs. Spaces are constrained, it is restricted in terms of how the space can be used and, structurally, the theatre is nearing the end of its lifespan. 

Supported by a successful funding bid to the Government’s Towns Fund, this project will provide a new, fit-for-purpose performance space in the town centre that meets modern requirements. 

It will be built within a repurposed Old Post Office (84 Union Street - currently home to Oldham Local Studies and Archives) and the former Quaker Meeting House behind it on Greaves Street (currently home to Oldham Theatre Workshop). 

Oldham Local Studies will relocate to a brand-new public archive which is being built within Spindles Town Square as part of our plans to transform the shopping centre. 

Oldham Theatre Workshop will have a new home at the Old Library, which is currently undergoing a major restoration to bring it back into public use. 

When complete, the new theatre will be an integral part of Oldham’s Cultural Quarter, which will also include the Old Library, Gallery Oldham and the existing Oldham Library. 

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