THEATRE bosses say the Octagon puts an £8m smile on Bolton faces.

The Octagon, often described as the Bolton's 'jewel in the crown' is much more than just a playhouse but a key player in the town's economy.

Five months on since opening their doors following its redevelopment and the pandemic, the Octagon has published results from a report which details its economic, cultural and social impact on Bolton and Greater Manchester.

It generates a Gross Value Added (GVA) figure of over £10.8m each year across the UK economy, with over £8.4m of that generated for Bolton and Greater Manchester.

Carried out by specialist economic advisory company AMION Consulting, the figure is calculated by considering such factors as the Octagon’s role as a local employer, a spearhead for attracting visitors to the town and investor in the local supply chain.

The report also revealed the social value of the Octagon, through research highlighting the benefits arising from engagement in arts and culture.

Attending Octagon productions, as well as participating in their creative engagement programmes, created an annual saving of over £500,000 to the NHS – taken from government research conducted which found that people would report being in better physical and mental health as a result of attending or participating in arts events.

The theatre's work with children and young people, the education benefits from the Octagon amount to an estimated annual value of over £340,000.

And audience research also revealed that 98 per cent of the theatre’s audience agreed that the Octagon was good for the image of Bolton.

Findings in the report demonstrate that every £1 of Bolton Council investment generates £43 in GVA and social impact for the local economy.

The Octagon reopened in summer 2021 after a £12m redevelopment which saw the complete modernisation of the entire building with updated performance spaces, brand-new participation facilities, improved front-of-house experience and expanded backstage facilities.

As a result of the redevelopment the Octagon is estimated to generate an additional net £19.1m of impact to Bolton over the next 25 years.

Funding from local government, Arts Council England as well as the unprecedented support from the Culture Recovery Fund has enabled the Octagon to reopen post-Covid-19.

Since May, the Octagon has welcomed thousands of visitors to the building, supported a brand new music festival for Bolton, toured an outdoor family theatre show to communities and launched a free family festival in the summer. Their reopening production of The Hound of the Baskervilles is currently on national tour, reaching 1000s more people across the country. Just a number of examples of the Octagon’s work in generating the impact that this report demonstrates.

The Bolton News:

Theatre chief executive Roddy Gauld said: “The Octagon Theatre is Bolton and proud. We are extremely passionate about being an advocate and a positive contributor for the town and the local communities that we work with. In the wake of Covid, as we still see local businesses and people weathering the storm of the pandemic, we are determined to play a part in the town’s recovery.

“The results of this report demonstrates the vital role the Octagon contributes to Bolton, the local and national arts and economic landscape – generating investment in the town, bringing visitors to Bolton, supporting other vital organisations such as the NHS and enhancing the lives and wellbeing of the local community.

“We are delighted to share the results of the report – as a public funded charity we could not do the work we do without the incredible support from our funders and supporters, so we are thrilled to be able to share with them what their invaluable support and generosity is helping us to achieve.”

The Bolton News: PERFORMANCE: Vicky Binns as Fran and Sam Jenkins-Shaw as Marcus

Council leader Cllr Martin Cox said: “We’ve always known what a tremendous asset the Octagon Theatre is both to the cultural life of Bolton and the local economy.

“The results of this study confirm just how important the venue is to the community and to the reputation of Bolton as a great place to visit.

“The council is proud to support the Octagon Theatre, which has a vital role to play as we continue our regeneration work to create a more vibrant and prosperous town centre.”

Jen Cleary, Director North, Arts Council England, added: “It is great to see the Octagon reopened and entertaining audiences once again. The theatre is instrumental in providing a fantastic cultural offer for residents and visitors alike and we’re delighted to support it as a National Portfolio Organisation and through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. I look forward to enjoying some performances in person soon.”