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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Julie Hesmondhalgh has called on supporters of Oldham Coliseum to stage a sit-in

By Steve Cooke



Julie Hesmondhalgh has called on supporters of Oldham Coliseum to stage a sit-in at the venue in protest against its forthcoming closure.






Julie was joined by fellow actor Maxine Peake in speaking out about the closure, arguing ACE [Arts Council England] could have done more to save the historic site. She is calling its forthcoming closure an act of "cultural vandalism".


Both Julie and Maxine have been involved in championing the venue after it lost its ACE funding last November.


Julie says, "I am heartbroken and furious. I believe that ACE North and Oldham Council could have saved the Coliseum,"


"For ACE to give £1.8 million to the council for the promotion of the arts when there is a beloved organisation and building right there, with its rich cultural history; a building that employs many local people and artists, that brings people to the town; an organisation that has worked for years to connect with all the communities in Oldham and produce high-quality theatre and artistic engagement: it makes no sense."


"It is a tragedy for Oldham. Where will that money go? What will happen to the building? The land? This is a tragedy borne of austerity and an all-too familiar disregard for small, struggling northern towns, for art, for theatre."


"I think we should, as a community, stage a sit-in and refuse yet another piece of cultural vandalism."



Maxine added, "I am devastated, and I don’t use the word lightly."


"I am devastated and angry for the people of Oldham, the staff, the creatives, admin [workers] and everyone who has worked at Oldham tirelessly to keep that theatre running.


"I just feel more than ever towns like Oldham need creative spaces, safe spaces for people to come together."


"It’s a very sad day, not just for Oldham and the North West but for the arts in general and the future of working-class actors from all backgrounds."



As a venue that hired numerous freelance workers in the theatre and creative sector, Freelancers Make Theatre Work warned that it would leave a "hole" in the arts community.




It said: "Like many, we are deeply disappointed by the news, especially considering the passionate and vocal support from across the theatre world highlighting the importance of local, producing venues that support freelancers and their communities.”


"The hole that this venue leaves will not be easy to fill, and the precedent being set for such drastic funding cuts that effectively remove theatre from a community is shocking."




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