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Octagon Theatre Bolton

Annual Report 2012/13

octagon Bolton

o t g n ud” i n e o v r e p “AnBolton do Guardian The

Principal Sponsor

Box Office: 01204 520661

Sue Hodgkiss, CBE DL Principal Patron

n o i t c u d o r t In

Welcome to the Octagon’s 2012/13 Annual Report

Over the course of the year we achieved a number of artistic successes on and off stage. Our productions of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and Of Mice and Men set new milestones in terms of audience and box office success, whilst The Winslow Boy and Our Country’s Good achieved accolades for the quality of the productions. Off stage projects such as the Bruntwood Academy in collaboration with Bolton Lads and Girls Club, our pilot work with the Bolton Youth Inclusion Team and the number of schools touring performances highlighted the range of opportunities for young people. We are committed to new artists and audiences for theatre and our continued development of new plays and writers was particularly evident during the year.

Margaret Blenkinsop Chair of Trustees

As an organisation, the year saw a number of important changes not least of all, after twelve years and an immense contribution to the Octagon, our Executive Director John Blackmore stood down and a new Chief Executive, Roddy Gauld joined us. Looking to the future, and the decline of public investment, it is clear that we will need to keep increasing self-earned income and support from other sources. Our recent investment in capital improvements highlights both the ever pressing need to maintain the building and our desire to improve trading income wherever possible. We would like to thank our audiences and stakeholders for the difference they make to the Octagon. It is the on-going support of so many people that enables us to thrive.

Roddy Gauld Chief Executive

David Thacker Artistic Director

If you have any comments or questions about this Annual Report please get in touch on 01204 529407, or email


Suzan Sylvester as Grace Winslow in The Winslow Boy (2012). Photo credit: Ian Tilton. Front cover shows Fiona Hampton as Madge and Nicholas Shaw as Joe in Lighthearted Intercourse (2012). Photo credit: Ian Tilton.


s n o i t c u d o Pr

Our mission is to create theatrical experiences that inspire the people of Bolton and the North West. We strive to present a programme that offers a range of classic and contemporary plays alongside new writing, family work and plays that are rooted in local culture. Whilst the standard of work remained high overall, our productions of The Winslow Boy, Our Country’s Good and Of Mice and Men were particularly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. All are great classic plays and demand excellent ensemble acting, brilliant design and sensitive direction. The quality of the work has been underlined by great press coverage and awards; Our Country’s Good was described by the Daily Mail as a “theatrical landmark” and a “consummate revival of a modern classic” by The Guardian. The 2012 Manchester Theatre Awards celebrated The Winslow Boy with awards presented to the cast for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. Such was the success of Of Mice and Men that it became our best ever selling non-festive show, selling over 12,000 tickets and taking over £140,000 at the box office. Two productions had particular impact for Bolton audiences because they were by major Bolton playwrights. Lighthearted Intercourse by Bill Naughton was a

world premiere that was reworked by director David Thacker from numerous drafts of Naughton’s unfinished play and has now entered the canon of his work. The Rise and Fall of Little Voice by Bolton writer Jim Cartwright proved its enduring resonance with our audiences and was so successful that an additional week of performances was added to the run. Just as important to local audiences was The Queen of the North, a new play by Ron Rose, which charted the life of local legend and Coronation Street star Pat Phoenix. Our boldest piece of new writing was Tull by Phil Vasili. The play gripped and stimulated its audiences with the true life story of footballer and World War One hero Walter Tull, and sparked an extensive programme of associated new writing and young people’s activities around the topical themes it addressed. Our festive production of Peter Pan delighted audiences young and old alike. Again, working with a group of developing writers and involving a children’s community company, we were able to provide a truly community focused production. The fact that four out of our eight productions in the 2012-13 financial year were new work is a remarkable achievement and is testimony to our commitment to developing new plays.

Images (clockwise from top): Sue Devaney as Mari in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (2012). Photo credit: Ian Tilton. Lynda Rooke as Pat Phoenix in The Queen of the North (2012). Photo credit: Ian Tilton. Christopher Villiers as Hook in Peter Pan (2012/13). Photo credit: Ian Tilton.


nd Learning a on participati The range and richness of opportunities for people to participate in theatre activities continues to grow. With projects ranging from schools tours to community literacy programmes; work for socially disadvantaged young people to improving community cohesion and diversity, the Octagon worked with people of all ages to provide enriching, inspiring and educational opportunities. There were 28,985 participants over the year, involving individuals across all of Greater Manchester’s boroughs. A total of 2,154 children attended one of 39 touring performances.

Projects included: • Switch – a two year project in Bolton and Oldham to bring young people from different backgrounds, cultures and abilities together through creative activity. • Headspace – a creative project for individuals who have experienced mental health problems, using artistic intervention to support the recovery process. • A highly successful pilot with the Bolton Youth Inclusion Team to engage young people at risk of offending in social skills and confidence building.

• A long-term association with the Willows Estate in collaboration with Bolton at Home to provide opportunities for children and adults to participate in the arts and gain new skills through creativity. • Bridges – youth theatre provision specifically for young people with learning disabilities. • Octagon BASIC – the first of its kind in Bolton, a new group for young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered.

“I think that could be the best piece of theatre in education I’ve ever seen” Teacher’s comment after seeing Tull schools touring production

“I think I’d be in a cell if I wasn’t coming to the Octagon” Young person at risk of offending on their experience working with the Octagon

The Bruntwood Academy with Vicky Binns, Kieran Hill, Michelle Collins, The Mayor and Mayoress of Bolton, Michael and Jean Ogelsby. Octagon staff including Artistic Director David Thacker, Associate Director Elizabeth Newman, Associate Director for Learning and Participation Lisa O’Neill-Rogan, and Participation Manager Jennifer Riding, and Bolton Lads and Girls Club Senior Youth Worker Lindsay Gleaves. Photo credit: Ray Jefferson, Bolton Camera Club.


As well as new productions on stage, we supported 640 writers to develop their talent through script reading, workshops, performances and commissions. We worked with a range of industry partners such as the BBC, University of Bolton, 24:7 Theatre Festival, The Alligator Club, Theatre by the Lake and many others.

ts s i rt es a g c n n i e op udi l e a v De and

We held our first sleepover for writers: inviting 35 people from all over the country, from a range of communities, cultures and experiences to work together through the night on new ideas which are bearing fruit for 2013/14 and beyond, including a number of site-specific productions across Greater Manchester.

High; and Dim Sum Nights, a unique theatre experience involving food and participation.

We continued to seek and support young actors and directors, and the emergence of five exceptional young actors making their professional debuts in our main season productions was particular cause for celebration; all of whom now have promising careers ahead of them. Overall, 26% of Octagon attenders were new to the theatre and our online sales increased by 13% on the previous year. Online continues to be an important sales channel for new theatre bookers and improving our digital experience is a priority for the future.

The range and quality of our studio programming continued to attract young, new and diverse audiences to the theatre. Work included The Stage Award 2012 Best Ensemble production, Mess by Caroline Horton; the dynamic and hard hitting Whole by 20 Stories

Sales of season tickets increased on the previous year as did the number of attenders returning to the Octagon following an initial visit. Season Ticket sales increased from 1527 in 2011/12 to 1563 in 2012/13.

Images: (left) Writers at The Love Inn sleepover event (2013). Photo credit: Elaine Wong. (Above right) Whole by 20 Stories High (2013). Image credit: Robert Day (Above) Mess by Caroline Horton (2013). Image credit: Alicja Rogalska


e r u t u f e Th

Looking to 2013/14 there are already a number of exciting developments. Over the summer of 2013 we undertook a major renovation of the theatre to modernise the auditorium and refurbish the front of house areas. The work took place over eleven weeks and included installation of a new lighting grid and extensive electrical work, as well as a new café, kitchen and bar. The latter elements of the project directly responded to feedback from customers about the front of house environment, as well as a need to increase ancillary trading in the years to come. At the time of this report the majority of fundraising for this major project was completed and the feedback on the improvements extremely positive.

Partnerships will play a key role in our future – whether it’s with coproducers such as Out of Joint, with whom Our Country’s Good is due to tour the UK again and transfer to America in 2014; or local partners such as the University of Bolton and Bolton at Home with whom we are able to reach new audiences and support the development of future talent. Our important collaboration with the University of Bolton is now accompanied by a relationship with Salford University, as we collaborate in teaching an exciting MA in playwriting together with the Royal Exchange and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse theatres.

The 2013/14 season will be one of the biggest the Octagon has ever undertaken, with ten productions giving a huge range of variety for audiences and our season ticket scheme providing even greater value for money.

Images: (Left) Matthew Needham as Robert Sideways, Kathryn O’Reilly as Liz Morden and Dominic Thorburn as Second Lieutenant Ralph Clark in Our Country’s Good. Photo credit: Robert Workman. (Above right) The Octagon café, eight, was refurbished, rebranded and launched in 2013. Photo credit: Ray Jefferson, Bolton Camera Club.


Incom expen e& ditur e

2012/13 Income & Expenditure Catering Services; £182,155

Income Total income £2,198,167

Other Income; £93,556 Learning & Participation Project Income; £121,130

Box office receipts; £800,670

Grant funding; £878,090

Sponsorship & Donations; £122,566

Expenditure Catering Services; £175,357 Direct cost of Learning & Participation projects; £117,477

Total expenditure £2,191,999 Direct cost of performances; £610,386

Staff and Operating costs; £1,288,779

Image: Youth Theatre rehearsals for The Resistible Rise of Artuo Ui (2013). Photo credit: Ray Jefferson, Bolton Camera Club.


72,013 people attended an Octagon production during 2012/13 Of these 26% were new attenders Of Mice and Men (Jan-Feb 2013) became the best-selling nonfestive show in the Octagon’s history, selling almost 12,000 tickets and taking over £141,000 at the box office 57% of 2012/13 festive show attenders were aged 16 or under 41% of Octagon attendees travelled from outside Greater Manchester during 2012/13 The Octagon Theatre Bolton contributes £7.8m to the economy We have used the Shellard Model to calculate the economic impact of Octagon activities. The Shellard Model grew out of Arts Council England commissioned research on the economic impact of performing arts organisations and is summarised as follows: Economic impact = (annual turnover + overseas earnings + additional visitor spend + salaries + subsistence allowances + goods and services expenditure) x a multiplier of 1.5

Image: Kieran Hill as Lennie in Of Mice and Men (2013). Photo credit: Ian Tilton.


“A sterling cast in a highly entertaining production” Manchester Theatre Awards on The Rise and Fall of Little Voice

“A superbly talented and captivating cast”

octagon Bolton

The Bolton News on Of Mice and Men

“David Thacker’s direction is poetry in motion” The Observer on Tull

Principal Sponsor

Principal Patron

Sue Hodgkiss, CBE DL

Production Sponsor

Image: Nathan Ives-Moiba as Walter Tull in Tull (2013). Photo credit: Ian Tilton.

Major Partners

Octagon Annual Report 2012-13  
Octagon Annual Report 2012-13