BOLTON’S Octagon Theatre is enjoying a double celebration after maintaining vital funding until 2018 - worth almost £2 million.

The news comes just days after four people connected to the theatre were honoured with a doctorate from the University of Bolton for their contribution to the arts.

The theatre secured the funding in the latest round of announcements by Arts Council England, the organisation which distributes government and National Lottery money.

It will receive £614,060 for 2015/16 and the same amount in both 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Theatre bosses say the cash will be used to pay for significant projects, details of which are to be announced later.

Octagon chief executive Roddy Gauld said: “The Octagon is delighted to receive continued support from the Arts Council during what was a difficult budget round.

“We have a number of important developments ahead.”

In 2014/15, the theatre received £616,553 from the Arts Council and £614,061 the previous year.

It was given another boost in recent days as the university held a ceremony to commemorate 190 years since its origins as Bolton Mechanics’ Institute.

David Thacker, the Octagon’s artistic director and professor of dramatic arts at the university, was honoured with a Doctor of Arts for Services to the Theatre.

His wife Margot Leicester, who went to Bury Grammar School, was honoured with a Doctor of Arts for Services to Theatre and Television.

The stage and screen actress has appeared in several productions at the Octagon, most recently in Long Day’s Journey Into Night and The Glass Menagerie.

Sue Hodgkiss CBE DL, principal patron of the Octagon, was also honoured with a Doctor of Arts for Services to Arts and the Community.

Margaret Blenkinsop, chairman of the Octagon Board, was honoured with a Doctor of Arts for her outstanding contribution to theatre and the community.

due to her long and distinguished career as a teacher, education adviser and leader.

A lifelong lover of the arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, she has supported the Octagon for many years.

The four were amongst 19 “outstanding individuals” honoured with a doctorate to celebrate every decade in the university’s 190-year history.

As the Octagon’s principal sponsor, the University of Bolton works closely with the theatre to allow students to learn about the staging of plays and other aspects of performance.

Mr Gauld added: “It's wonderful that so many people connected to the Octagon are being recognised by the university for their contribution to the theatre and the arts.”