'IF theatres go dark, they could go dark for good' ­— that's the stark warning from Metro Mayor Andy Burnham, who said the Octagon has the 'full support' of the city-region as fights for its survival through the coranvirus pandemic.

The Greater Manchester Mayor, who heads up the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, made his comments as the transformation of the theatre into a world class facility nears completion.

The Octagon sign was put into place just before the weekend.

The Bolton News has previously reported how the Octagon Theatre should be opening its doors this summer, raising the curtain on its new facilities.

But its opening has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic ­— costing the theatre £500,000 in lost income. The pandemic has forced other theatre in the country to call in the administrators.

A Crowdfunding appeal ­— the first ever set up by the Octagon ­—has raised more than £41,000. Every donation made will be matched by the The Oglesby Charitable Trust.

Mr Burnham said:“We recognise how place like the Octagon bring in so many people into Greater Manchester and give us a presence on that national and international cultural map.

"This is a city-region that believes in culture and the arts, we’re aware of some of the challenges that the Octagon are facing but we’ll do our best to support them through those.

“If these theatres go dark, they could go dark for good. These places are part of our national fabric.

"They are what brings places to life.

" If you want to level up, you’ve got to keep these lights burning within our regions.

" It’s a challenging time, no doubt, for the arts and culture sector but they have our full support.

“Be assured that the Octagon is very much on our radar indeed.”

Theatre bosses say the Octagon will be a "truly world class cultural resource for the town when ready".

Artistic Director Lotte Wakeham, speaking from theatre where finishing touches are taking place, said: "Being here today makes me more determined than ever that we will be back ­— but we can't do this without your help."

"A few weeks ago we launched our Crowdfunder campaign, The Octagon Future Fund, and we are so incredibly grateful to all of you who have donated and contributed to that.

To donate visit crowdfunder.co.uk/octagon-future-fund or call 01204 520 661.