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Bolton Octagon reveals £12 million extension plans

An architects image of what Bolton's Octagon could look like after extension work
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Bolton’s Octagon Theatre has unveiled plans to extend and modernise its building, which would see its studio space become operational all year round.

As part of a £12 million plan, an extension to the building is proposed that would create a new rehearsal space, with new seating also planned for the main auditorium.

Backstage and production facilities would also be improved, meaning that the building’s studio theatre – often used as a scene-dock area for productions in the main auditorium – would become available for use all year round.

Other proposed improvements include new air conditioning, better disabled access, more offices for Octagon staff, and making the building more environmentally friendly.

Chief executive Roddy Gauld said: “The Octagon is nearly 50 years old, so it was built and designed for a different era. And it doesn’t meet the requirements of a modern theatre.”

He added: “It’s important that the Octagon keeps up with other venues in Bolton and also the standards of other theatres nationally.”

Gauld also explained that, if the project was successfully funded, work would not begin on the theatre until after its 50th anniversary in 2017, as a “limited closure period” would be necessary.

A less extensive £2 million development plan is also being considered as an alternative. This would provide “essential improvements to the fabric of the building”.

The theatre now plans to apply for funding from public bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, and will also work to raise funds privately.

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