On March 1, 2023, it was announced that planning permission had been granted for a project that hopes to redevelop a theater in a way that will both reconnect a community and revitalize the entire district of South Somerset, England, a region that covers an area of 370 square miles (958 sq. kilometers).
The Yeovil Octagon redevelopment project hopes to provide revitalizing opportunities for all Somerset residents, bring world class artists to the county, and spark economic regeneration for the area and be a source of joy, entertainment and inspiration for generations to come.
Councillors of South Somerset District Council voted to approve planning permission for the FCBStudios-designed redevelopment of The Octagon Theatre, which will see the venue transformed into a flagship centre for the creative arts.
Adam Burgan, Arts & Entertainment Venues Manager, said “This is really exciting for us all involved at The Octagon Theatre and the arts in Somerset on a day-to-day basis as we see planning permission granted for a venue that will not only benefit the local community but also bring the opportunity for all to access the world-class arts here in Somerset.”
He added, “The tendering process for contractors to bid for the works in a competitive process is underway and we are set to close the doors on The Octagon Theatre as we currently know it at the end of April, making way for the new home of entertainment here in Somerset.”
The redeveloped Octagon Theatre will include:
- An increased seating capacity in the main auditorium from 622 to 900;
- Two new smaller cinema/studio spaces for film screenings and spoken word;
- A dance studio which will become the new home for our popular Octagon Academy;
- A community studio offering an alternative space for additional classes;
- A greatly improved café bar area open throughout the day;
- Improved front of house and customer facilities;
- Improved backstage accessibility;
- The construction of a fly tower, enabling larger visiting companies to use the venue which would bring a new range of shows; and
- A Changing Places Toilet for those with additional needs.
The development of The Octagon will mean fewer trips out of the county to access brilliant shows, activities and entertainment with superb events right on your doorstep and unleashing creativity across Somerset and beyond.
Colin Cobb, Partner at FCBStudios said “Our reimagining of Yeovil Octagon theatre will give a dramatic new identity to this vibrant cultural facility, positively impacting on the arts in Somerset. With a larger auditorium, new studio spaces and an open and welcoming foyer it will provide spaces for people to meet, engage, and enjoy the arts.”
The low carbon extension to the existing 1974 theatre is designed to engage with the neighboring Country Park, as well as the town.
This connection to nature continues through an expressed “forest-like” timber structure to the front of house areas, and the anticipated use of timber from the site in the foyer joinery finishes.
Councillor Mike Best, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing at South Somerset District Council, said “The redevelopment will better enable the arts to reach out into the community, with Arts Council England seeing the redevelopment of The Octagon as a symbol for the renewed commitment to the arts by local government in Somerset.”
He concluded, “As the new Unitary Council is established, and in line with the anticipated delivery of a new Cultural Strategy for Somerset, there will be opportunities to develop a more considered culture offer across Somerset.”
The Octagon Theatre is currently planned to close its doors to customers at the end of April with building works then set to commence in the coming months.
FCBStudios is working with Theatreplan, E3, Momentum and Arup Acoustics to deliver the redevelopment plans for the theater.
All images courtesy of FCBStudios.