MORE than 70,000 people took their seats to watch a production at Bolton’s Octagon Theatre in one year.

The theatre has released its annual report for April 2012 to March 2013 which also reveals the venue contributed £7.8m to the town’s economy during that period.

Of Mice and Men — the best-selling, non-festive show in the Octagon’s history — sold almost 12,000 tickets and took more than £141,000 at the box office, during its run in January and February 2013.

A total of 72,013 people attended an Octagon production during 2012/13, with 26% of visitors new to the theatre and 41% of attendees travelling from outside Greater Manchester.

Roddy Gauld, Octagon chief executive, said: “The Octagon had a successful year with a huge range of theatre productions and numerous education and young people’s projects.

“The fact that we were able to set new box office records says so much about the demand for our work.

“As a charity, it’s important that we tell people what we’ve achieved, because it really is due to everyone else’s on-going support that we’re able to thrive.”

The theatre’s total income was £2,198,167 with the biggest chunk of cash — £878,090 — coming from grant funding, followed by £800,670 at the box office.

Expenditure totalled £2,191,999 with the largest amount, £1,288,779, being spent on staff and operating costs.

Season ticket sales increased from 1,527 in 2011/12 to 1,563 in 2012/13.

Both the Rise and Fall of Little Voice and Of Mice and Men set new milestones in terms of audience and box office success, while The Winslow Boy and Our Country’s Good achieved accolades for the quality of the productions.

A total of 640 writers were given help to develop their talent through script reading, workshops, performances and commissions.

There were 28,985 participants in a number of projects including Headspace, a creative project for individuals who have experienced mental health problems; Bridges, youth theatre sessions for young people with learning disabilities and Octagon BASIC — a new group for young lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, the first of its kind in Bolton.

Projects such as the Bruntwood Academy, in collaboration with Bolton Lads and Girls Club, pilot work with the Bolton Youth Inclusion Team and the number of schools touring performances highlighted the range of opportunities for young people.