The Octagon Theatre has revealed a first glimpse inside £12million reimagined building as the venue reflects on the last 12 months and looks to the future
One year on since theatre’s up and down the country had to close their doors due to the Covid pandemic, the Octagon today give a first look inside their impressive new building following a two-year, £12million redevelopment.
The reimagined Octagon has seen the complete modernisation of the entire building with updated performance spaces, brand-new participation facilities, improved front-of-house experience and expanded backstage facilities.
This exclusive inside reveal comes ahead of the finishing touches being made and the reopening later this year, with a date to be confirmed in the coming weeks following the recent announcement of the Government roadmap of when theatres can reopen their doors.
Octagon Chief Executive, Roddy Gauld commented: “After what has been a tumultuous 12 months, we are now excited to be looking to our future as we plan our reopening. The Octagon is an incredible creative and cultural hub for Bolton and we hope these first glimpses inside the redeveloped building will lift people’s excitement as we get ready to welcome the public back through our doors!
“The reimagined Octagon benefits from more internal space; is more environmentally friendly; has vastly improved accessibility; and enhanced customer and backstage facilities for everyone’s comfort. The building needed a new roof and major modernisation of its electrics and plumbing and I’m pleased to say is now fit for generations to come.
“This redevelopment wouldn’t have been possible without investment from Bolton Council and Arts Council England, and to the 12,000 donors who have supported us. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has backed us.
“The pandemic has hit Bolton particularly hard, and the Octagon is now ready to play a leading role in our town’s recovery and future. We know people are looking forward to live entertainment and I don’t think the theatre could be more needed or more capable than it is right now!”
Since theatre’s closed on 16 March 2020 the Octagon have continued to connect with the community by moving their programme to digital online platforms.
Audiences have been able to enjoy live performances and events including a live Zoom production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; a broadcast reading of A Christmas Carol; a festive online quiz hosted by Mina Anwar and family StoryMaker’s readings.
Their engagement programmes have continued to provide creative opportunities online with 3000 participants taking part in workshops, youth theatre, over 50’s Theatre Club and music sessions, as well as delivering Creative Care Kits to support wellbeing for those without internet access.
The venue have also continued to support local freelance artists through its Incubation Residencies, open auditions, participation in the Freelance Task Force and by teaming up with other local theatres to create Greater Manchester Artist Hub.
Thanks to public support their Future Fund public fundraising appeal has raised £84,697.48.
Artistic Director, Lotte Wakeham added: “Given that it is 12 months since theatres across the country had to close, it is heartening to be able to look back at what we have accomplished in such challenging and exceptional circumstances. From sewing scrubs for the NHS and lending our building to the rollout of the Covid vaccine, to developing projects to support local artists, to keeping our audiences entertained with our online content, we tried never to lose sight of our desire to bring our audiences and our community together.
“After what has been a difficult year we are really excited to now finally share pictures from inside the brand new Octagon which will offer a warm and welcoming environment for the whole community. We promised you we would be back, and now the building is complete we cannot wait to open our doors and welcome you back in person to your reimagined Octagon.”
Leader of Bolton Council and the Greater Manchester portfolio lead for Culture, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: “The new images of the Octagon are fantastic and showcase to residents the excellent facilities waiting for them once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. We are proud to support the redevelopment of one of Bolton’s greatest cultural assets which is a key part of our town centre regeneration plans.
I am looking forward to visiting once The Octagon opens and seeing the venue flourish with its impressive new design and features.”
Following its redevelopment the Octagon is now a practical, functioning venue that can meet the growing demands of their ambitious artistic vision and engagement work.
The Octagon is eagerly anticipating when they will be able open their doors for audiences and participants to fully appreciate and take advantage of all the new facilities and enjoy their reimagined Octagon.
Find more info about the Octagon by visiting www.octagonbolton.co.uk