Leading actors join calls to support Octagon appeal

Published: 25 June 2020
Reporter: David Chadderton

Octagon Theatre, Bolton

Ian McKellen, Sue Johnston, Sharon D Clarke, Matthew Kelly and more have sent messages of support for the theatre, which has so far raised more than £40,000 for its Crowdfunder appeal.

The Octagon’s history was due to reopen this summer after a major redevelopment but, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic it is facing a significant financial shortfall of half a million pounds in lost income. The Octagon Future Fund, with support from the Oglesby Charitable Trust, launched in late May to appeal for donations to help it through the current crisis.

Sir Ian McKellen, who spent his teenage years in Bolton, said, “The Octagon Theatre has been providing a safe place for visitors, whether they are on stage or watching in the audience. It might surprise you that such a vital resource for the town is a registered charity. So do your best, contribute what you can.”

Dinnerladies star Sue Devany, who has worked at the Octagon many times and began her career at the theatre in 1984, said, “I love everything about that theatre. From the backstage crew, to the front of house staff it is the most amazing place. I went back there a couple of months ago to help relaunch the very exciting reopening season. Which is now unfortunately delayed due to COVID-19... The team are determined to get the Octagon doors open as soon as possible. We want to bring the community back together again as only live theatre can but we can’t do this without your help.”

Chief Executive Roddy Gauld said, “we normally rely on visitors buying tickets and spending money in our theatre. As a registered charity, we always depend on donations, and need them now more than ever. Bolton Council and Arts Council England have been steadfast in their support of the Octagon but they cannot replace the income we’re losing.

“We’re reviewing everything that we do in order to find a new way of operating our fantastic redeveloped theatre, which is so nearly completed. When we are able to open, we’ll have a world class theatre putting on outstanding productions once again, as well as generating millions of pounds for Bolton’s economy. With the continued support of everyone who believes in us, we’re determined that we will be back!”