Wellington Orbit, a community cinema and arts centre based in Wellington, Shropshire, is celebrating a major step forward – the full acquisition of its premises thanks to a significant cash injection from Wellington Town Council.
The purchase of the Orbit’s freehold marks a significant milestone in a decade-long fundraising effort that involved the support of tens of thousands volunteer hours and concerted fundraising campaigns.
The move, made possible by investment and donations from the community, grant funding and support from a Public Works Loan from Wellington Town Council, cements the Orbit’s ambitions to deliver on its promise to bring a culture, cinema, and arts venue to the heart of the town.
Having full ownership of the building in Station Road also provides security and enables the project to devote its efforts on developing the upper floors, whilst attracting further investment and support from investors.
The funding from the town council was agreed by councillors in December 2022 and marks the biggest financial decision in the history of the council. Public consultation about the loan and how it would best benefit Wellington took place in Autumn 2021.
Phil Morris-Jones MBE, Chairman at Wellington Orbit said:
“The purchase of the freehold is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the community, volunteers and staff, providing long-term stability and sustainability of the project.
“This achievement is not only a milestone for Wellington Orbit, but also for the town of Wellington as it solidifies the cinema and arts centre as a vital hub of renewal and growth.
“We are grateful for the support of Wellington Town Council, who recognised the importance of Wellington Orbit and played an instrumental role in helping us reach this achievement.
“As we celebrate this momentous occasion, we would also like to recognise and remember those who were instrumental in the success of the project but are no longer with us. Their absence is deeply felt but we know that their legacy lives on through the continued success of the project.”
Stephen de Launey, Councillor at Wellington Town Council said: “We are delighted to provide the assistance to this excellent and much needed community-based organisation. The investment provides stability to the Orbit and has cross-party political support”.
Wellington Orbit opened in May 2019 following years of community support and fundraising through the ‘Save the Clifton’ campaign. It opened with a 63 seat-cinema and café with phase two now in the pipeline to redevelop the upper floors creating a new multi-use studio and arts, exhibition, and meeting spaces for the community.
Ray Hughes, Director at Wellington Orbit said: “We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the individuals and organisations who have supported us along the way. This purchase takes us a step closer to phase two, and it would not have been possible without their generosity and dedication. We look forward to continuing to serve our community for many years to come.”
In addition to financial contributions from the public, Wellington Orbit received support of £150,000 in its set up stage in 2018 from Telford & Wrekin Council as part of the ‘Telford 50’ campaign.