THERE will be plenty of drama going on at the Market Place Shopping Centre as it become the stage for a new project for young people.

The Octagon Theatre is inviting young people in Bolton, aged 11-to-25, to come up with ideas for a special "takeover day" in the shopping centre after being awarded £9,800 from the Co-op Foundation's Building Connections Fund Youth strand.

The programme is designed to get more young people involved in the theatre through watching productions and taking part in activities­— and to combat loneliness in youngsters.

Young people will work with the theatre to create an event ­in which they takeover the Octagon's space at the Market Place.

They can get involved by attending the Ideas Cafe on Wednesday, Feburary 13 from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at the Market Place, where the Octagon has relocated to while the town centre theatre undergoes a transformation.

Young people can share and develop ideas over pizza for the event and discuss how the theatre can be more attractive to young people by pitching their ideas for "bold and exciting events" that will attract young people in Bolton.

A project manager and budget will be allocated to the winning idea and will be produced with Octagon Theatre resources as an event in the space at the Market Place on Saturday, March 23.

The takeover day will be designed around themes of identity linked with the Octagon’s upcoming production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Six Schools in Bolton will receive free workshops delivered by Octagon Theatre participation practitioners and subsidised tickets will be available to young people who participate in any part of the project.

Vicki Brown Head of Creative Engagement at the Octagon Theatre, said: "This funding from the Co-Op Foundation Building Connections Fund is an exciting opportunity for us to pilot new ways of working with young people at the Octagon.

"We want to empower young people to co-create activity with us and design services that meet their needs.

"We know that loneliness is something that can affect all young people and we are passionate that theatre can bring people together, create new friendships and build a sense of belonging. We want young people feel ownership over the Octagon and to fill our spaces with creative activity that they want to see in their town."

Jim Cooke, Head of the Co-op Foundation, said:"Spaces where young people can come together to enjoy shared interests are important for building connections and tackling youth loneliness. By involving young people in improving local spaces, we’re helping to increase their confidence and skills, while also building stronger, co-operative communities. We look forward to seeing the impact this funding has tackling youth loneliness across England."

The Building Connections Fund is a partnership between government, Co-op Foundation the Big Lottery Fund to tackle loneliness and improve community connections.

For more information about the project and how to get involved visit, email or call 01204 556501.