The Octagon have welcomed funding from Garfield Weston Foundation
The Octagon Theatre is one of 106 cultural organisations across the UK to be awarded part of a £30m one-off fund to support the cultural sector set-up by the Garfield Weston Foundation in response to the devastating impact of Covid-19.
The Weston Culture Fund is supporting a diverse range of organisations from regional museums to major national institutions, including the Octagon Theatre who have received investment of £320,000 in a highly competitive process.
The Weston Culture Fund will support the Octagon to have a bold and exciting programme in spite of Covid-19. The theatre was originally due to open in summer 2020 and this was postponed due to the current Covid pandemic. Although there is no definite date for theatres to re-open, the Octagon is working on a range of plans for productions in and out of the building that could go ahead with social distancing. This investment will enable the Octagon to start putting these plans into action and to create a truly exciting range of work that people from Bolton and beyond can look forward to. Full details of the programme will be announced in due course.
Octagon Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham commented: “This welcome funding from Garfield Weston Foundation will make a massive difference and mean we can put on a fantastic programme of bold and exciting productions for our opening season and beyond. We have a world-class new theatre building to open and I’m incredibly excited about the shows we’re working on. We’ll also be working with families in Bolton to co-create a new family festival, as well as exploring how we could bring outdoor theatre to people across the town, and we’re testing a range of ideas for online theatre. After what has been a very difficult 12 months, we have some hugely exciting projects in development and I’m delighted that we’re working with and supporting a wide range of talented freelance artists. I cannot wait to share all the details with our audiences and welcome them back to the brand new Octagon later this year.”
Octagon Chief Executive, Roddy Gauld commented: “I’m truly thrilled that we have been awarded this investment and am incredibly thankful to Garfield Weston Foundation for recognising how important the Octagon is for Bolton and our recovery.
“Bolton has been hit particularly hard since Covid restrictions came into effect, facing the toughest restrictions in the country even before the tiered system was introduced last year and the continued lock down. We know that people miss cultural and social activity right now. People want the thrill of live entertainment. Culture is good for our imagination, our health and our economy. I’m delighted to say that the Octagon will be bringing people together again as soon as it’s safe.”
Head of Development Danielle Fearnley added: “We are incredibly grateful to Garfield Weston Foundation and the Weston family for their support of The Octagon, and continued investment in the arts. Garfield Weston was looking to see entrepreneurial spirit, artistic excellence and real relevance for audiences and communities as organisations adapt to the challenges of the pandemic. We are proud to be amongst the 106 organisations across the UK to have received a grant from such a highly competitive fund.
“As a registered charity we couldn’t do the work we do without the help of funders and supporters, who have shown such generosity over the past year. We are delighted that the trustees at Garfield Weston recognise the Octagon’s potential and cultural significance, and have invested in our plans to work with our community to build a stronger future in the wake of the pandemic.”
The Garfield Weston Foundation’s Director, Philippa Charles, says: “Our cultural sector is at the heart of our local communities providing not only entertainment but education and inspiration for many. Our Trustees were impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit shown across the arts in response to Covid-19 and it was a privilege to hear what organisations had been doing to not only survive but also to reinvent the way they reach audiences. What really stood out was the level of collaboration and support they had for each other and the determination to keep going, despite the increasingly difficult situation.
“We all want and need our cultural sector to thrive and, if anything, our time away from the arts has shown just how important they are to us - bringing much needed pleasure and enrichment to our lives. Arts organisations are desperate to re-open and get back to what they do best and we hope that this new funding will help many of them do exactly that.”
As a registered charity, we are grateful for all of the support from our funders, audiences and everyone who has donated in this difficult period. As we continue to prepare for reopening in 2021 your support will be more important than ever before.