THE Octagon Theatre has been awarded £50,000 to keep the arts scene alive in Bolton during the pandemic.

The cash from the National Lottery Fund will ensure it can still work with communities during the coronavirus crisis.

The theatre was of the of first UK theatres to establish an engagement department and its work has proved a lifeline for many ­— reaching 13,000 every year through its Youth Theatre, Women's Group, Bridges, ArtBeat and ReACt programmes.

During the pandemic, the theatre has continued to deliver its creative engagement programme, supporting their most vulnerable participants and the local community through various on-line projects, phone calls and delivering creative care kits to homes.

Now the grant of £54,768 will help the venue to continue its work.

Octagon’s head of creative engagement, Victoria Brown said: “We are extremely thankful to the National Lottery Community Fund for recognising the crucial work we do with Bolton’s communities, and their support with this grant will ensure we can continue to collaborate with participants and partners to deliver our high quality creative programmes and projects to our community.

“For over 50 years the Octagon has provided a creative outlet and safe haven for our ever growing number of participants. With Covid and lockdown restrictions causing an increase of loneliness, isolation and affecting people’s mental health and wellbeing, keeping connected with our community is even more essential, now more than ever, and this grant will allow us to do just that.”

This year has been the most challenging year in the Octagon’s history and it is thanks to supporters that the theatre has survived.

To help the Octagon through this year, people are invited to join the theatre as a member or patron.

For more information about the ways to get involved and take part at the Octagon visit