Originally, the Clifton cinema boasted 1,300 seats and also staged concerts, pantomimes, lectures and a variety of other events. It was altered and extended many times before being reduced to just under 300 seats after 1983 and finally closing early in 1989. Sadly very little of the original interiors and none of the equipment remain.
From the wide expressions of interest it is envisaged the former cinema building, together with the single storey structure alongside it to the north,could be adapted to accommodate:
- In the cinema building – a fully flexible performance space with around 400 seats and able to be configured in as many forms as possible
- ..and upstairs, a 100-seated cinema
- Foyers, bars and toilets plus modern disabled facilities
- In the flat-roof building, up to three studio spaces for rehearsals, dance & exercise classes, film/TV production and experimental theatre,
- Dressing rooms, workshop, wardrobe and support spaces
- An arts-themed café-bar with free Wi-Fi access and forming a meeting point
- Exhibition areas for visual arts, including sculpture, video, tactile art and photography
- Workshops, studios and similar areas for ‘artists and craftspeople in residence’
- Teaching and demonstration spaces
The Developed Vision
We are currently using the layouts below in discussion with funders, grant aid bodies and suchlike. It is in no way finalised and will be subject to a public discussion once we acquire the site, employ a design team and draw up proper architectural plans (click on the item that interests you to load a plan):
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is going to run the Clifton after it is rebuilt?
A: That will be up to the members of the Community Benefit Society. The current Board only has one mission – to acquire the site and raise the money for the redevelopment. The shareholders in the Community Benefit Society will elect a Board who will oversee the running of the building.
Q: How can I put forward suggestions?
A: Once the building is in our hands we will be working up the detailed designs and publishing them for members of the Society to give comments and suggestions. But you will have to become a shareholder!
Q: Where exactly is the cinema?
A: Initially it will be located – but only temporarily – in the multi-purpose room C in the middle of the site whilst we rebuild the old cinema building. Ultimately, it will be upstairs, on the first floor of the old Clifton building. It will only have around 100 seats, as nothing larger is commercially viable. It is not trying to compete with the multi-screens and I-max.
We expect it will offer a mix of programming that includes seasons for minority, ethnic, individual and national interests – e.g. Bollywood, Polish, Asian, LBGT, genre, actor and director. It could eventually have around 20 screenings in a week, with maybe three different films in a single day. We hope to encourage a club for film buffs, which can then input suggestions to the programming.
There can be old favourites like children’s Saturday morning cartoon shows, parent and baby morning shows, late night 18 certificate horror etc. It will be possible to show the ‘live relays’ of performances from the National Theatre, the Royal Opera, the Royal Ballet and similar international companies.
Q: What will it be like inside?
A: Comfortable, clean, welcoming and will be decorated in Art Deco style. There will be ‘double seats’ in the back rows! If you have been to either the Old Market Hall in Shrewsbury or the Electric in Birmingham these are two comparable set-ups. With no popcorn and no over-priced fizzy drinks either!
Q: What will those three multi-purpose rooms be used for?
A: What do you want to do? All will have resilient wooden floors so they can accommodate dance teaching/rehearsal, drama, exercise classes, band rehearsals, meetings, lectures, social functions – so long as it is not dangerous and does not cause damage it can happen. The larger rooms can also host smaller and experimental performances – drama, dance and music. Open mic evenings, folk/jazz jam sessions and the like are all possible.
Q: Will it be open to all?
A: Absolutely! It will be a public, community facility open seven days a week. Nobody will be turned away, this is not somewhere that is exclusive, and it is for the whole community regardless of age, race, belief, orientation or social standing. As long as you behave in a sensible and responsible manner, all will be welcome.
Q: Won’t it be too expensive for ordinary people?
A: No, pricing will be absolutely in line with similar community venues across the Midlands. Cinema seats will be at or below multiplex prices. Concessions will be available for the old, the very young and those who work as volunteers on projects within the Centre. We also intend there to be special events for those who otherwise cannot afford to get out and interact socially and these will be at special low prices.
Q: Can I just drop in for a snack and a coffee?
A: Yes, of course! The intention is the café bar will be open from early morning right through to late evening. It will have free Wi-Fi and spaces where you can meet and chat with friends in a safe and welcoming environment.
Q: Aren’t there enough bars in Wellington already?
A: The offer in the café bar will be food and hot/soft drink based and not alcohol-led; although a limited range of wines and specialist bottled beers would be available.
Q: What will you put on in the theatre?
A: Right now, that is very much an open book and we welcome ideas. The theatre capacity is deliberately set half way between existing privately run facilities in the area and The Place. We expect local amateur drama, musical theatre and dance groups to want to use what will be a somewhat more up-to-date facility technically than current venues in Telford. Because we are designing the theatre space to be fully flexible, we will also be able to present more small-scale and experimental theatre, both professional and amateur. It will contrast with and complement the programme at The Place.
We would also be happy to see it used by local or touring musicians playing everything from Handel to heavy metal, Bach to Beach Boys, folk to Faure and rap to classic rock. It could host choral concerts, ballroom dancing, tea dances for pensioners and small scale sports events such as table tennis and snooker tournaments.
Q: Will it be subsidised?
A: Not for the running costs of the building itself, but subsidy from organisations like the Arts Council will be available for specific performances, creative activities and exhibition events. We also anticipate support from charities, the NHS and local authorities for work with disabled, disadvantaged and minority groups that cannot currently access arts, creativity and well-being.
Q: What are the other facilities indicated on the plan?
A: On the ground floor level, we intend to have exhibition space for local artists, space for ‘pop-up shops’, an area where you can see crafts-people at work and a ‘dirty workshop’ for metalworking and anything similar that generates dust or fumes. There will also be storage cages for groups who use the building regularly so they can leave equipment on site.
Q: How about upstairs?
A: The alterations as proposed would leave us with a group of smaller rooms high up in the front of the Clifton building – the former upper balcony foyer and the old projection rooms above. We have no specific plans for these at present but they could be available as multi-media workspaces, photographic labs (several are windowless) or office spaces for creative enterprises.
At the rear of the supermarket building there is another upstairs area, which could be set up with a north-facing window as an art studio or again as a media suite. The ‘upstairs’ space in the main part of the Clifton building will be taken up with the theatre technical facilities and the plant rooms for the air conditioning equipment.
*These are the current view of the The Clifton Community Arts Centre directors, as this a community-led project, the ideas above are open to YOUR ideas!