Five months after reopening in the middle of a pandemic and following a major refurbishment project, a new report suggests Bolton's popular Octagon theatre has an impact on the local economy of almost £11m a year.
The report, by specialists Amion Consulting, says the Octagon's gross value to the area is £10.8m a year, almost £8.5million of which is generated mainly within Bolton and the surrounding Greater Manchester area. This takes into consideration the theatre's worth as an employer and as a visitor attraction, the latter resulting in a significant amount of money being spent in local shops and restaurants. The report also places a value on the Octagon's social function as a place of entertainment and education. It suggests going to a show or taking part in one of the theatre's creative programmes saves the NHS around £500,000 a year in savings on mental health and physical treatments. Another £340,000 is said to be the value of the theatre's work with young people. Little wonder that the theatre has a 98 per cent approval rating for the image it presents for the town. Every £1 of Bolton Council investment in the theatre generates £43 in added value for the local economy. The Octagon reopened in the summer after a £12 million modernisation of the entire building – which, the report suggests, will generate hundreds of thousands of pounds extra each year, amounting to over £19m over the next 25 years. Octagon chief executive Roddy Gauld said:“We're Bolton and proud; extremely passionate about being an advocate for the town and determined to play a part in the town’s Covid recovery. “The report demonstrates the vital role the Octagon contributes to Bolton, generating investment, bringing visitors, supporting other vital organisations and enhancing the wellbeing of the local community. "As a public-funded charity we could not do the work we do without incredible support from our funders and supporter. We are thrilled to share what their invaluable support and generosity is helping us to achieve."
The wider point is clearly that theatres in all towns and cities are great powerhouses of both economic and cultural wealth, whether it be from employment or as an attractant of visitors and subsequent investment in local business and infrastructure, which repay many times over the cost of maintaining them. The Bolton figures break down like this: Economic benefits (£10.8 million): • Benefits from local employment - £7.59 million annual Gross Value Added • Benefits from Octagon as a significant visitor attraction - £2.57 million annual GVA • Benefits to supply chain - £150K (local) £630K (UK) annual GVA Social benefits (£897K): • £500K estimated savings to NHS • £340K estimated education benefits • £39K estimated impact of regular volunteers
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