VAULT Festival is London and the UK’s biggest, boldest and wildest curated arts and entertainment festival, hosting hundreds of events each year across Waterloo.
In 2019, VAULT Festival showcased 428 different shows from more than 2,000 artists, featuring the best and most exciting theatre, comedy, cabaret, immersive experiences, late night parties and more. Over 79,000 audience members joined us underground for what was our biggest festival to date.
“London’s most exciting new and grassroots theatre, cabaret and comedy. Plus a packed line-up of immersive experiences, pop-ups, parties, and bags of underground atmosphere.”
Want to perform with us? Click here to visit the Perform With Us page.
• To fill and expand our cultural imaginations, and encourage everyone to fill their lives with creativity, adventure, and inspiration.
• To create the most accessible platform for creators to innovate, collaborate, explore and achieve and through which audiences can discover the bravest and boldest artistry.
• To fulfil equally the interests of our four participant groups; the visiting companies, the audience, our staff, and our collaborators. We will create the opportunity of most value for all four groups and champion their involvement.
• To create an ever-improving platform and industry where artists, audiences, and staff are respected, supported and championed in a fully inclusive, supportive, and diverse community.
Opportunity, Equality, Honesty, Respect and Kindness.
VAULT Festival is a multi-arts and entertainment platform. Its primary purpose is to provide a place for live performance of all genres and styles to flourish in a supportive environment; accessible to a multitude of artists and audiences.
We consider these values in relation to our four participant groups: our audience, our visiting companies, our team, and our collaborators. We are constantly striving to make the festival better for all of those people, and every decision is made with our values and participants in mind.
We’re not publically funded in any way (we’ve tried!) so every pound that’s invested into making the festival happen is at risk of being lost every time we do it.
We meet this challenge by making the festival as economically efficient as possible. We run all of the venues and bars, setup and manage the box office, and create and sell our own merchandise ourselves to ensure that the whole thing stays afloat (just about).
Our total income revenue for the 2019 Festival broke down as follows:
|Box Office Split||25%|
|Audience Festival Contribution||9%|
|Bar & Food||58%|
|Memberships & Merchandise||0.4%|
We still rely almost entirely on our box office split and the bar takings to bring in enough income to cover the Festival’s costs – which have grown just as quickly as the audience. So, next time you’re enjoying a pint in one of our bars, you can feel assured that you’re supporting the festival and the artists by doing so. So – why not have another? (Please drink responsibly.)
We are still trying to make the Festival economically sustainable. Since 2014, VAULT has managed to cover its costs, and occasionally made a small profit, which is divided between our investors (60%) and the Heritage Arts Company (40%).
The Heritage Arts Company then reinvests that money back into the following VAULT Festival in order to keep it going.
Each year, we have to look at what it would cost to go again, and decide whether or not it’s possible. To date, we’ve decided to do it every year, and we hope to keep making that decision.
The first festival in 2012 cost £43,200. By comparison, the 2019 festival cost £1.01 million. So, when we commit to doing another festival, we’re effectively starting at minus £1.01million, and are trying to get back to £0 from there in order to breakeven.
For 2019’s Festival, our total costs broke down as:
|Technical & Production (Physical)||14%|
|Bar Stock & Equipment||20%|
|Communications, Marketing & Digital||4.5%|
|Venue Hires & Costs||11%|
|Overheads & Core Costs||8%|
“There is no better place to find such innovative and daring work. Join the underground movement for eight weeks of creativity, novelty and fun.”
Reclaim The Week
VAULT Festival was created by the Heritage Arts Company in 2012 as a one-off project. A fascinating, underground labyrinth of tunnels owned by Network Rail (now The Vaults, a diverse year-round venue programmed and managed by its own team) wasn’t in use – so Heritage Arts populated it over three long weekends in February with a handful of cutting edge productions , a couple of big parties, and a pop-up cinema.
It was a potentially-disastrous, ambitious project, and a lot of work for a still-young company. We came through it against the odds thanks to the hard work of a tiny team, the belief and goodwill of the artists, and the cultural hunger of the audience willing to take a punt on a new idea.
There was no Festival in 2013; the idea of doing it again was daunting, and we were tied up in a number of other projects.
Throughout 2013, we kept coming back to the idea and seeing if we could develop it further – what would VAULT Festival look like a second time around? Could we improve it? (Obviously).
Could we expand it? (Maybe). Could we turn it into a sustainable opportunity for artists who were struggling to find affordable, flexible spaces to get their work in front of an audience in a central London location? (Hopefully).
VAULT Festival returned in 2014 with a more defined remit, a much longer run, and a (slightly) bigger team. We saw an opportunity to create something unique – a short-term, wide-reaching playground for a multitude of artists and performers which would allow them to try stuff out without breaking the bank. By putting lots of different shows in one space, we hoped to reward artists financially for their hard work, with the festival taking only a small percentage of the overall box office and hoping that enough people would buy a drink that we could cover our costs.
So we ran our first six-week Festival in 2014. And once again – through the efforts of an incredibly committed team, curious and supportive audiences, and a new group of talented artists – it worked.
This plan, or philosophy, is pretty much the same in 2019 as it was in 2014. We’ve now put the Festival on seven times, each hosting more shows and bringing in more audiences than the last. The number of artists looking to present work in London is extraordinary, and we do our best to enable as many of them as possible to do it at VAULT Festival. The team has grown each year to meet the huge administrative, technical & promotional demands of the Festival, and the level of commitment from staff and the quality of the work artists present continues to exceed our expectations.
The festival has largely grown for two reasons. Firstly, to meet the demand of the artists. More and more artists were wanting to present work with us, so we wanted to be able to facilitate as many of them as possible. Secondly, the more our team grows (and the more “properly” we tried to do things), the more our costs increase. So part of the expansion is about trying to make the finances add up and keep covering the growing Festival costs.
The 2019 VAULT Festival featured 428 productions, in eighteen venues, across eight weeks, and welcomed 79,851 people through the doors.
The Heritage Arts Company
Directors: Mat Burtcher & Andy George
Heritage Arts creates cultural moments that excite the public imagination. With ingenuity and originality, we’ve produced events and theatre across a variety of media, with and for numerous clients and organisations… www.heritagearts.co.uk
Mat Burtcher & Andy George,VAULT Festival Producers, Directors & Founders
George Islay Calderwood, Head of Operations
Laura Drake-Chambers, Head of Lates
Rhea Heath, General Manager
Bríd Kirby, Head of Comedy
Bec Martin-Williams, Head of Theatre & Performance
Josh Morrall, Head of Communications
Full credits for VAULT Festival 2020 coming soon!
WeAreWaterloo is co-sponsor of VAULT Festival 2020 and is the Business Improvement District for Waterloo, which works with 400 businesses in the area to make the Waterloo a great place to visit, live and do business.
Co-sponsor of VAULT Festival 2020, South Bank Business Improvement District (BID) operates on behalf of local businesses to improve and manage the area and promote South Bank as one of London’s leading destinations. The BID operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded through a levy on business rates, introduced via a ballot, over a five-year term, with the second term commencing on 1 October 2019. Members of South Bank BID’s Board are drawn from local organisations and employers, to reflect the collective interests of businesses in the South Bank area.
South Bank BID is delivered by South Bank Employers’ Group (SBEG), a unique not-for-profit partnership of major employers in South Bank, Waterloo and Blackfriars, with a long-term commitment to improving the experience of the area. Destination marketing for South Bank, and its venues and attractions is managed through www.southbanklondon.com.
Meantime Brewing Company is an award-winning craft brewery in Greenwich, London, England.
Since 1985, Pleasance have been providing opportunities for fringe theatre in Edinburgh, and is now one of the best known and most respected venues at the Fringe. Joined by their Islington theatre in 1995, the Pleasance Theatre Trust provides a launch pad for some of the most memorable productions and renowned practitioners of the past decade and staying true to its mission of providing a platform for the talent of the future.
HB Reavis are an international workspace provider with a mission to create remarkable experiences through real estate solutions. In practice, we invest in, design, build and manage our buildings, from bespoke headquarters and retail malls to co-working spaces. But because we put users and local communities at the heart of every decision, these are also inspiring spaces that enhance productivity and wellbeing. After delivering 1 million sq m of space since 1993, we now have projects in the UK, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary and Germany. Add €1.2 billion of capital, a €7.0 billion pipeline and 700 talented people, and it’s clear we’re shaping Europe’s real estate landscape.
Steeldeck Stage Rentals have been providing creative, flexible and safe portable staging hire and tiered seating solutions to a wide range of events and productions for over 25 years. Whether small stage hire for a private party, camera risers for film sets, or bespoke stage structures for festivals, we are the experts at providing staging for hire and tiered seating that’s right for you.
As a major independent supplier of sound and video equipment SSS provide a fully integrated service and technical expertise across the UK and internationally.
Stagedoor is London’s most comprehensive theatre guide, tailor-made for you with thousands of audience and critic reviews, personalised recommendations, and seamless booking.
White Light is the complete production solution specialist operating in a range of markets.
Nick Hern Books is the UK’s leading specialist performing arts publisher with over 1,000 plays and theatre books in their catalogue.
With thanks to our Friends and Patrons
Mrs Kathryn Buscall
VAULT Festival exists to try and make people’s lives better. So every year we partner with different Charities and Not-For-Profit Organisations to raise money and drive engagement with the causes they’re working towards. In the past, our charity partners have included Help Refugees, HeforShe, The Passage, Child.Org, Crew for Calais, and the Green Earth Appeal.
In 2020, VAULT Festival and Child.Org are co-running the Gift Horse Stage @ The Horse & Stables to raise money and drive awareness for their Team Mum Campaign. In Kenya, one in 26 babies die before they reach their first birthday. Team Mum will launch pregnancy support groups – arming new mums in rural Kenya with the health information and support they need to protect themselves and their babies. VAULT Festival believes in the power of mum. That’s why we’re donating 50% of our income from the Gift Horse Stage to the Team Mum campaign.
You can support Child.Org and their Team Mum campaign by:
1) Buying tickets to shows at the Gift Horse @ The Horse & Stables venue
2) Donating to the campaign at the point of purchase for these shows
3) Donating to the campaign on their website www.child.org
Brand new for the 2020 festival is the Time for Change Space in collaboration with Restless Development. Together, we want to inspire our festival goers to demand change for people and for the planet. Restless Development trains and supports young people around the world who are ending poverty, inequality, and fighting injustice. The space will feature installations and activations around actively changing the world we live in, for the better.
You can support Restless Development and their Time for Change campaign by:
1) Visiting the Time for Change Space in the heart of The Vaults and engaging with the installations and activations – having your voice heard and making a change.
2) Buying tickets to the Restless Development Q&As and Special Guest Events featured in our programme. (More information coming soon!)
3) Donating to the campaign at the point of purchase for these events as well as other selected shows that are about the issues that Restless Development work on.
New for 2020, VAULT Festival and Staging Change are joining forces to work towards making a theatre industry that has a small footprint, but a big impact. The Staging Change network of performers and makers work together to discuss and actively change how the industry can overcome the challenges it faces in becoming more environmentally sustainable.
You can support and engage with the campaign of Staging Change by:
1) Attending our Eco Week shows, workshops, and events (18 Feb – 23 Feb) including booking to see the Staging Change Award Winning Show, How To Save A Rock. (More information coming soon!)
2) Visiting the Time for Change Space in the heart of The Vaults and engaging with the Staging Change installations and activations.
3) Participating in the Staging Change workshops on how to create a more sustainable industry.
VAULT Festival 2020 will take place in collaboration with our wonderful and unique venue partners across Waterloo. For directions, please see the Your Visit page.
Leake St, London, SE1 7NN | www.thevaults.london
The beating heart of VAULT Festival. The Vaults is London’s home for immersive and alternative arts.
246A Lower Road, London, SE1 8SJ | www.networktheatre.org
Network Theatre is a community theatre space in the underground railway arches of London Waterloo station run by the volunteers of the resident Network Theatre Company.
122-124 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7RW | www.thehorseandstables.co.uk
An independent, family run traditional English pub with a modern twist, a hearty menu, and a youth hostel upstairs.
34 Lower Marsh, London, SE1 7RG | www.vaultytowers.london
Vaulty Towers is a quirky, cosy, and characterful pub on the iconic Lower Marsh.
131 Waterloo Road, London, SE1 8UR | www.hellodarling.london
Hello Darling is a flower-bedecked theatrical restaurant & bar for seasonal small plates & botanical-based cocktails.