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by Natalie Bannerman

VAULT Festival: Champion of the arts

If you haven’t already heard, VAULT Festival is the latest in a long line of arts and entertainment festivals rapidly growing in popularity here in the UK.

Kicking off on January 28th, this eight-week event is taking place at 18 different venues across the Waterloo area. Now in its eighth year, VAULT Festival brings together a curated line up of theatre and comedy, immersive experiences, cabaret, live performance and of course, late night parties.

The 2019 edition saw more than 400 shows make it into the programme from approximately 2,000 artists, and 2020 will only build on that. This year, aptly called VAULT500, has more than 500 shows available on sale, bringing the total number of artists on this year’s billing to more than 2,700.

If that weren’t enough, VAULT500 has also refocused its efforts on diversity and inclusion in its performances, with 64% of this year’s work being female led, 33% from LGBTQ+ creators and 25% from BAME artists. In addition, in order to create a truly diverse programme for 2020, VAULT has partnered with a number of creative and charitable organisations in support of this goal.

These partners include Nouveau Riche, a diverse creative movement led by a team of professional artists and producers. Together with VAULT, it is launching Brand Nouveau Riche Initiative VAULT Festival Edition, that will nurture emerging writers and directors of colour to create new pieces that will showcase during the event.

There is also Northern Stage, a theatre charity based in Newcastle that brings together artists, writers, makers, digital creators and businesses for creative exploration. For VAULT500 it is bringing four shows down to London from alumni companies of its NORTH Scheme.


Excitingly, VAULT and COMMON, a leading national arts organisation, are launching the CULTIVATE Bursary. This fund will be awarded to two working class artists at this year’s festival. The recipients of the will receive £1,000 towards the cost of their production and £750 worth of PR and marketing.

Also new for 2020 is the Time for Change Space in collaboration with Restless Development, a charity who trains 8,000 youth leaders around the world to effect change in their communities. Comprised of four Q&As linked to shows that align with the goals of Restless Development, which seeks to change the world we live in for the better. It will feature takeovers from VAULT Festival’s existing partners, including Extinction Rebellion; Staging Change,’s Team Mum Campaign, and Let’s Talk, an initiative with Guy’s and ST Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

“We are excited about the new partnerships we’ve formed this year,” stated Mat Burtcher and Andy George, founders, directors and producers of VAULT Festival. “Our goal has always been to continually break down barriers to inclusion, providing as many opportunities for artists as we are able, whatever their background. VAULT Festival continues to fill and expand cultural imaginations, and we want to encourage everyone to fill their lives with creativity, adventure and inspiration.”

As the official start to VAULT Festival draws ever closer, it’s works like Erinn Dhesi’s Wigs Snatched, Perceptions Destroyed, that are must see for this year. The fake TED talk by that teaches how to monetise and curate your online presence while maintaining just enough of your dignity and identity.

There’s also sustainability focused, It’s the End of the World as We Know It by Matt Winning and Tinted by Amy Bethan Evans, a story about disability and the Me-Too movement, a reminder that disabled people are cool, funny and sexy, to name but a few.

As festival goers take in 56 days of pure entertainment and the show continues to grow in notoriety, here’s to VAULT retaining its artistic edge, grassroots core and as ever, with its finger firmly on the pulse.