VAULT Creative Arts, the charity behind VAULT Festival, have announced the closure of VAULT Festival and the cancellation of plans for their new London home, after failing to secure the funding required to continue. 

The organisation had secured a new long-term home for VAULT Festival and other year-round creative activity in SE1, central London which was due to open later this year. VAULT had been in developed conversations with multiple social investors alongside a blended fundraising strategy. Last week, the organisation learned that it had failed to secure the principal funding required to deliver their new home and future VAULT Festivals. This prevents VAULT from utilising the other additional funds being raised alongside the social investment and VAULT are therefore left without the reasonable prospect of sufficient funds to continue operating, nor the time to be able to seek alternative investment.

The closure means that VAULT has had to enact redundancies across the organisation. Affected staff have been spoken to and are being offered support during this time. The charity will be contacting donors who contributed to the successful ‘Big Give Christmas Challenge’ campaign in December 2023, which raised over £20,000 for access equipment at their planned new venue with a view to returning those donations. The upcoming fundraising VAULT Gala has been cancelled and tickets will be refunded. Ticket holders are being contacted directly.

VAULT had been planning to open a new cutting edge central London home with state of the art performance spaces, multiple rehearsal studios equipped with technical equipment, an accessible nightlife venue for live performance and live music, a podcast recording studio, writers rooms and communal spaces all aimed at supporting emerging artists to create new work, hone their creative skills, and develop their careers right in the heart of London. The venue was being designed by award winning production and stage designer Rebecca Bower, whose previous work includes the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games with Technical Infrastructure Design being provided by Sarah Readman. Access consultancy was being provided by Nicky Baker with architects Mitchell + Corti providing design consultancy.

VAULT was also preparing to announce the return of VAULT Festival and a new model which would have seen two 5-week festivals take place each year, one in Spring, one in Autumn, each boasting 250-300 unique shows. The new model was projected to enable over 1,700 artists to begin and elevate their careers annually and provide thousands of people with opportunities to develop creative skills and build resilient networks throughout the year. This strategy would have also financially de-risked the performance opportunity for artists meaning it would have been a truly affordable and accessible platform for everyone to present brand new original work. This evolution and year-round venue would also have provided long-term stability for the organisation, who despite bouncing back from the impact of COVID never fully recovered from the loss of their original home last year.

Since its creation in 2012 as a one off project, the critically-acclaimed VAULT Festival has given a platform to over 3,000 bold and brilliant shows from over 12,000 emerging artists to over 465,000 audience members. Having provided access to creative opportunities and helped launch the careers of thousands of underrepresented artists, VAULT Festival is recognised for being vital to the live performance and creative industries landscape of the UK by providing an incredible springboard for new writers, actors, directors, comedians, backstage crew and nightlife performers with alumni including Ella Hickson, George Mackay, Police Cops, Tatenda Shamiso, Desiree Birch, Joe Lycett, Mae Martin, and James Acaster. 85% of VAULT Festival shows have gone on to have a future life, with many transferring to high profile venues including the Royal Court, The Harold Pinter Theatre, Southbank Centre, Trafalgar Studios, and Soho Theatre and as far as Germany, Spain, Finland, Brazil, Canada, Ukraine, India, Australia & the USA amongst many others.

The Trustees of VAULT Creative Arts, the charity behind VAULT Festival, will continue to work to seek solutions to keep the spirit of VAULT Festival alive through its operations at their venue The Glitch in Waterloo, which supports emerging artists and LGBTQ-led collectives through its upstairs and downstairs programming.

CEO, Director and Co-founder Andy George said, “We are devastated, we’re proud, and we’re grieving. 12 years ago, we set out with a mission to make the creative industries of the UK more diverse, more experimental, more inclusive, more joyful, and more embracing of the talents and ideas that emerging artists have to offer. I feel extremely proud that we’ve achieved that mission through our work and that we are leaving the creative industry in a different place to how we found it. 

We had an exceptional team, we had a fantastic new home, and we had the vision of how to get there. To come so close but ultimately fall short is agonising. We are grieving what could have been and what will be lost for future generations. I am certain that the impact from the loss of VAULT Festival will be felt across the entire UK creative sector for years to come. 

The irony that our platform that sought to support artists who have been failed and disenfranchised by the current funding, education, and institutional systems ultimately being undone by that very same system is not lost. Something needs to be done.

Our journey may have come to an end, but I implore others to pick up the baton, to fight the fight, and to be creative, courageous and kind. Make art, make trouble, make change.” 

Chair of VAULT Creative Arts’ Board of Trustees Nathan Woodhead said, “VAULT Creative Arts was created to give the best possible chance for a sustainable future of VAULT Festival; a mission which has been tirelessly pursued over the past few years by our team. The actions taken to streamline our operations are a devastating and unavoidable step.

It would be amiss not to celebrate the incredible impact of VAULT Festival and those who’ve made it a reality. Over the course of the past 12 years upwards of 500,000 people have played a part in making something incredible happen and we are grateful to every artist, partner, audience member, and above all else, the team who have been at the heart of it all. While today is a sad day for the organisation, it is also a clear and damning representation of the wider challenges faced by the entire creative industries, particularly fringe and emerging artists and organisations.

Today isn’t a time to look too far ahead, our immediate focus will be to support the team and continue to deliver on our charitable objectives at our arts and community hub, The Glitch.”

VAULT would like to recognise the contribution of their exceptional team, including those on whose shoulders we stand, for their creativity, passion and dedication to what has been achieved over the past 12 years and towards what would have been the next chapter of VAULT.