Oldham's Coliseum theatre open its doors again in time for Christmas 2025

After The Campaign Trail - Lisa Nandy will become secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport after Thangam Debbonaire’s electoral upset. Nandy, the former shadow international development secretary, will assume the post that classically trained cellist Debbonaire had hoped to take on in the new Labour government.

Within the past 13 years, 12 different people filled the culture minister’s position for the Conservatives. Although Nandy does not have an arts and culture background, she has held a number of positions in Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet. Previously shadow ‘levelling-up’ secretary, she is a member of the Unite union and has expressed support for remaining in the EU and promoting an international outlook.

In a statement, Nandy said: "I am thrilled to be appointed to DCMS. Its industries give meaning to millions of lives and bring communities in our towns, villages and cities together. As Culture Secretary, I will do everything I can to harness the limitless potential of the extraordinary people in these amazing sectors to drive economic growth, unlock opportunities for everyone and change lives for the better."

Coliseum Campaign - Oldham's Coliseum theatre, which closed amid an outcry in 2023 after more than 135 years, is to reopen after a successful campaign to save it, led by actor Julie Hesmondhalgh. The historic venue, which has been boarded up since last April, will have a £10m refurbishment in order to open its doors again in time for Christmas 2025.

The Coliseum was forced to close after Arts Council England withdrew its funding because of concerns over its management, while the local council said the building was "no longer fit for purpose". Oldham Borough Council planned to replace it with a new, smaller £24m theatre, but has now scrapped that idea in favour of refurbishing the existing building.

In The Courts - A Russian playwright and a theatre director have been found guilty of “justifying terrorism” by a military court in Moscow. Director Yevgenia Berkovich and playwright Svetlana Petrichuk were sentenced to six years each for the production of their play The Brave Falcon Finist. Loosely based on true events, the play tells the story of Russian women who travelled to Syria during the country's civil war to marry members of the Islamic State group.

The two women's defence lawyer vowed to appeal against the verdict. Held partly behind closed doors, the trial heightened alarm about freedom of expression in Russia among members of the country's artistic community. In addition to being jailed, both women will be banned from "administering websites" for three years after their release.

Brum Rocks - Hundreds of budding rock stars will come together on Sunday to perform in a one-off concert in Birmingham. The show, Brum Rocks, will see about 300 amateur musicians and singers performing at Forum Birmingham. It is being organised by local charity Misfits Music which aims to break down social barriers and forge connections between people via creativity. "It’s been a really ambitious project for us, the biggest project we've ever done as an organisation," said Rob Jones, artistic director.

Fringe Matters - The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is set to be impacted by overflowing rubbish bins once again after the Scottish capital’s waste and recycling staff voted to strike. Unions GMB and Unite rejected a pay offer from local government administrator COSLA to refuse workers in councils across Scotland, and union members in Edinburgh and elsewhere have now achieved a mandate to strike. A 12-day strike by bin collectors during the 2022 Edinburgh Festival Fringe resulted in unsightly piles of rubbish accumulating on streets in the city centre.

Breakdown - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s Bradford dates will be rescheduled to September following severe damage caused to the show’s famed car. Producers for the musical said the decision was "unavoidable", after a week of performances at Milton Keynes Theatre were cancelled. It is currently unclear what is required to fix Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s eponymous car - which was broken during the move to Milton Keynes.

(Jim Evans)

9 July 2024

Latest Issue. . .