Project information

Octagon Reimagined

As we celebrate 50 years of theatre made in Bolton, we must look to the future and ensure we can continue creating stories and changing lives for future generations. Our current building is no longer fit for purpose. This transformation will make our building fully accessible for another 50 years.

July 2018 - January 2020

Charity information: Octagon Theatre Trust Limited

Octagon Theatre Trust Limited logo
  • Need


    Our ambitions have no limits, but our resources do. We truly believe that everybody should have access to the arts, regardless of age or background. Here at the Octagon we want to be a theatre and arts hub for all, and provide a safe space for the whole community to create and share stories. Our productions and community work have significantly outgrown our 50 year building, which is not currently accessible throughout and restricts our crucial work both onstage and in the community.


    Octagon Reimagined will transform our building to ensure we are sustainable and welcoming to all. We will enlarge and modernise the building to be fully accessible for those with disabilities or additional needs, including lift access to all floors and performance spaces, increased places for wheelchair users and Bolton's first Changing Places toilet. More audience comfort via new seating, handrails, air handling and more space for our work with young people and community groups.

  • Aims

    Aim 1



    » The new building will be fully accessible for all audiences, participants, staff and artists including those with disabilities or additional needs

    What success will look like

    Improved audience experience for current audiences and welcoming new audiences that currently face barriers in visiting us. We can engage with more participants and artists.

    Aim 2



    » Audience experience will be improved through a new entrance and foyer, better temperature control, new seating, more toilets and a new cafe bar

    What success will look like

    The overall experience will be improved for current audiences and we will be more visibly welcoming and open to new audiences and able to expand our catering and events offer

    Aim 3



    » There will be increased space available for youth theatre and community groups throughout the building allowing us to bring more communities together

    What success will look like

    We will have dedicated space for youth and community groups and increase the capacity of our engagement programme to engage with even more hard to reach groups.

    Aim 4



    » The excellence of the Octagon’s work will be assured through new backstage areas, dressing rooms and a larger and fully accessible rehearsal room

    What success will look like

    We will be able to be more experimental and take artistic risks, presenting work that would not currently be viable, and supporting more emerging artists and new work

  • Impact


    The project will safeguard the future of the theatre and enable us to reach even more people. At a time of social, economic and technological change, we must have adequate theatre facilities to achieve our ambitious vision, and to ensure our resilience and sustainability. The planned redevelopment will act as catalyst for organisational development and growth. Modernisation, greater digital capability and reduced energy consumption will all support the potential for future growth.


    The following could present risks: failure to reach fundraising target; cost to business disruption during the work; accuracy of projected operating costs for the new building; variances in project costs; loss of audience between construction and re-opening; lack of staff skills to complete the project. Actions have been taken to reduce all of these risks including the off-site programme planned as cost neutral, extra staffing with business and fundraising expertise, and contingencies in place


    We will report to donors and stakeholders in accordance with their guidelines or requests. Regular reports will be completed for major funders to include financial and project updates. Lower lever donors will receive regular newsletters with updates about the progress of the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £9,870,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £208,000 Pre Construction Fees and feasbility studies
      £7,181,745 Build costs Build Costs—Construction, Fixtures and Fittings
      £788,000 Fees and charges Design fees including surveys
      £1,081,148 Client costs Management fees, Octagon client costs and business continuity
      £551,147 Contingency Client and contractor risk allowance
      £59,960 VAT Irrecoverable VAT

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Public Sector £8,350,000 Guaranteed
    Trusts & Foundations £577,000 Guaranteed
    Major Donors £53,826 Guaranteed
    Corporate £75,000 Guaranteed
    Public Campaigns £56,024 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Bolton is the 36th most deprived local authority area in the country. We are constantly in conversation with our communities, and our artistic offer reflects the dynamic locality we serve. Across the borough the economic and social profile of residents presents: low educational attainment; a low wage economy; high unemployment; high benefits dependency; a high proportion of residents experiencing long-term heath condition. As the only producing theatre here we provide a vital cultural provision.


    All current and new audiences, artists, staff and participants will benefit, particularly those with disabilities or additional needs. The project will also enable us to expand our community partners across the borough which currently include: Bolton at Home social housing organisation; Bolton Lads & Girls Club; Bolton’s Youth Offending team; Age UK; Bolton Cares; Bolton’s Hindu Forum; Interfaith Council; African Community Association; The Destitution Project for refugees and asylum seekers;

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Since the theatre opened in 1967 we have welcomed millions of visitors, seen hundreds of productions on our stage, engaged with thousands of young people and taken work out into the Bolton community and beyond. We create theatre in the belief that it can enrich our communities and fundamentally change lives for the better and serve the community that lovingly built us. To continue to our work we must ensure what we have a building that is fit for purpose and accessible and open to all.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Roddy Gauld

    Chief Executive