Sykes slams Arts Council England as Oldham Coliseum snubbed in favour of London venues

Oldham’s Liberal Democrat Leader councillor Howard Sykes MBE has slammed Arts Council England bosses for “shameful neglect of Northern heritage” after their decision to cut funding for the Oldham Coliseum.

Councillor Sykes said, “The decision to withdraw all funding from the Coliseum is particularly hard to take given that venues in London and the South are still attracting tens of millions of pounds, despite having their funding reduced.”

“No reductions here in Oldham though. The Arts Council has completely pulled the plug instead. The Coliseum is a treasured institution with a stellar regional and national identity. This is shameful neglect of northern arts heritage.”

On Monday, the Fairbottom Street venue announced it would cancel all programming after March 26th after its bid for continued Arts Council funding was rejected, bringing an end to 138 years of theatre history.

However, funding has continued in other areas of the country, notably in London.

In deciding which venues receive funding, Arts Council England lists supporting the governments levelling up agenda’ and the Red Cross Covid Recovery Vulnerability Index as two of its criteria for establishing need.

Councillor Sykes said, “Oldham has received a round of so called ‘levelling up’ funding and our borough scores a 9 out of 10 on the covid recovery index. So how on Earth can Arts Council England justify their complete withdrawal of support for the Coliseum?”

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