Wellington Orbit sets its sights on an official launch with new ‘SITR’ campaign

L-R: Glenn Chard (Investor), Fiona Hunter and Ray Hughes (both Directors at Wellington Orbit)

The organisation behind the transformation of the former HSBC building in Wellington into a new arthouse, cinema and café bar are looking to raise up to £100,000 to make the vision a reality.

Directors behind the Wellington Orbit are planning to use a second Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) campaign to secure the final money needed to turn the ground floor into a cinema and café bar, as part of a phased redevelopment that will ultimately utilise all three floors.

It has already raised more than £300,000 after receiving tremendous financial backing from both the local community and councils.

“The building work on Wellington Orbit is well underway and we are just a few final steps away from creating a vibrant community hub that will offer local people access to exhibition space, a café/bar, an artisan cinema and, longer-term, an art gallery and dedicated spaces for training, recreation and meetings for local groups,” explained Ray Hughes, Director at the Clifton Community Arts Centre, the organisation running Wellington Orbit.

“The Directors chose to go for a second Social Investment Tax Relief campaign as it proved so successful the first time, raising just under £64,000. SITR is a relatively new tax relief aimed at attracting new investment to social enterprises and charities.

“It was recently ranked as the 4th most effective tax incentive in the European Union and has the additional benefit of providing a tax break for both investments in shares and loans.”

He continued: “We benefit from getting finance that is more cost effective than conventional lending, whilst the people investing get a 30% tax break that makes it financially beneficial for them. For example, if an investor decides to lend us £1000 they will then get £300 back in the form of a tax break and then expect to receive interest on the amount loaned as well.

“Investors are expected to be local and keen to support a project that is pivotal to the regeneration of Wellington town centre or those who are based further afield and have a passion for supporting the arts. Creating a hub around performing arts is so exciting and providing facilities for all the community to use, regardless of your age or what you like doing.”

Wellington Orbit has taken a 5-year lease on the empty HSBC building in the town and are currently converting 6500 sq ft of space over three floors.

On the ground floor is an artisan café/bar, along with a 63-seat cinema that will have a luxurious ambience with comfortable chairs and the chance to enjoy food and drinks in your seats.

Classic, retro and niche films will all be shown as well as the latest blockbusters just a few weeks after their official releases.

As part of the second phase of development, the upper floors will be multi-purpose and can be used for an art gallery, training, meeting rooms or hosting community groups and exhibitions.

Melanie Mills, Social Sector Engagement at Big Society Capital, added her support: “SITR is an undiscovered opportunity for community groups and social enterprises that has the effect of allowing people – through the tax incentive – to earmark part of their tax contribution to community projects of their choice. The aim of our campaign is to get people talking about it and then starting to use it as the most cost-effective way of raising finance.

“Wellington Orbit has already enjoyed one successful raise using this form of finance and are looking to finalise its ambitious plans with another. Bringing an old building back to life as part of a bigger town centre regeneration plan is very important and the fact it already has 800 members and an ever-increasing number of volunteers before officially opening – shows the appetite for it to be a success.”

Big Society Capital, which improves the lives of people in the UK by connecting social investment to charities and social enterprises, has launched the GET SITR campaign to help raise awareness of what SITR is and how you can access it.

To date, more than 50 organisations have successfully been able to secure over £10m using SITR, but with more investors coming forward and the threshold of what you can raise rising to £1.5m, there could be a larger pool of finance to tap into.

Big Society Capital is running a series of events and webinars in the West Midlands to help organisations understand how they can get involved in GET SITR and what they need to do to apply.

The next one taking place in the region is a Support Surgery with Mills & Reeve Partner and SITR Tax expert Neil Pearson on March 12th.

For further information, please visit: www.wellingtonorbit.co.uk.

More details on GET SITR can be found at: www.bigsocietycapital.com or by following @bigsocietycap on twitter

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