The latest vision for the new Oldham Coliseum Theatre has been released ahead of the submission of a planning application. Mecanoo has worked with Oldham Council and Oldham Coliseum Theatre on a redesign, following the addition of plans for a studio theatre and feedback on the initial proposals.
The new Coliseum Theatre designs incorporate a 170-seat studio theatre in addition to a main auditorium for 500 people. Development of the new theatre is part of a phased project designed to combine the borough’s cultural offerings. The Cultural Quarter includes a new Heritage and Arts centre (also designed by Mecanoo) linked with Gallery Oldham, Library and Lifelong Learning Centre.
Francesco Veenstra, partner at Mecanoo said: “The design for the new Coliseum Theatre aims to provide Oldham with a platform for artistic expression – professional and community, as well as productions created by amateur dramatic companies – that is welcoming to all. We wanted to capture the ‘spirit of the Coliseum’ by creating an intimate and cosy atmosphere for theatregoers as well as performers, set builders, technicians and other Coliseum staff. Oldham’s rich history as a cotton weaving powerhouse is reflected in the building’s architecture, with the brick pattern referencing cotton patterns that were created in Oldham.”
Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Leader, said: “The Cultural Quarter project is the next vital step in regenerating Oldham town centre and making it a destination that residents can be proud of with better facilities and preserved heritage. Building a new home for the Coliseum Theatre is absolutely central to these plans. It will secure their future prospects and new audiences, and also help us attract a new type of visitor to town through a great arts, culture and leisure offer.”
Kevin Shaw, Oldham Coliseum Theatre’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted as this very exciting project takes a further step nearer fruition. The new building, with its specially created studio theatre, will allow us to grow new programmes of work, including home grown work at a smaller scale and projects for all of Oldham’s communities. Our commitment to our existing audiences remains – we’ll continue to deliver our famous warmth of welcome, one that makes coming to the Coliseum such an excellent experience, and one that new audiences as they discover us value hugely too.”
Mecanoo is committed to prioritising the local supply chain throughout this project and – in support of Oldham Council’s Get Oldham Working campaign – are delivering an employment and skills strategy to focus on young people in the borough, improving links with local education providers and exploring the opportunity to create apprenticeships.
The project was given the green light after a successful joint funding bid by Oldham Council and Oldham Coliseum Theatre secured a £7.1m National Lottery-funded capital grant from Arts Council England towards the project. Subject to planning approval, construction work is anticipated to start in April 2018 with the venue set to open in 2020.