Artistic Criteria & Aims

“One of the most diverse and eclectic lineups of any arts festival in the capital.”
This Is Cabaret

Artistic Ambitions

At VAULT Festival, our goal each year is to create a broad programme of events which is stylistically and narratively varied, and which will attract the widest range of audience interests and demographics possible.

We aim to encompass a whole spectrum of different performance styles. In the past we’ve featured all kinds of theatre, circus, clowning, comedy, cabaret, opera, dance, escape rooms, huge parties and immersive games. Everything is welcome.

There are ten broad programming categories to which you can apply. We don’t have quotas for each category, so the one you choose doesn’t affect the likelihood of being programmed, it just helps us get a quick idea of how you (and your audiences) see your production.

Programming Categories
Musicals & Gig Theatre
Dance & Physical Theatre
Cabaret, Circus & Burlesque
Spoken Word & Poetry
Mixed Bill, Podcasts & Variety
Lates (Saturday Night “Takeover” Parties”)
Site Specific, Immersive, Pop-Ups & Vehicle Venues

The breadth is essential to the continued existence of the Festival, and the programming team aims to keep the Festival’s content creatively fresh and exciting. By doing so, VAULT Festival hopes to provide a continuing series of opportunities for emerging artists and new work, as well as hosting more established voices and productions.

Artistic Criteria

We want to create an environment where artists are safe to try things out, and develop their voice – whatever that might be.

We champion diversity. We want the festival to represent the voices of London, and of the world. We want to provide a platform for underrepresented stories and people to create and share their work.

VAULT Festival is a place of collaboration and learning, so we favour ideas with people in mind: in storytelling, in design, in approach. We’re looking to elevate the experience for the audience and participants.

We respect ambition combined with deliverability. Often big ideas are the most exciting, but we need to know you’ve got your feet on the ground, too. If you’ve got huge ambitions, make sure to let us know you’ve considered all the challenges of presenting work at VAULT Festival.

We value entertainment and challenging work equally. We’re lucky to have an engaged, thoughtful audience. Exciting work comes in all forms.

We appreciate VAULT-specific ideas. Whether it’s a brand new production or an existing show re-packaged, we like work which uses VAULT Festival’s unique atmosphere as a strength. We want to know you’ve considered the underground location, the quick turnarounds, the size of the venue & the challenges of the noise from the rumbling trains. If you have to compromise your idea too much to squeeze it into the Festival’s framework, VAULT Festival might not be the right place for it – the show should come first.

We love honesty. Who you are – whether an individual or a team – is vitally important. VAULT Festival doesn’t work without a supportive community, and works best when everyone is honest.

VAULT Festival favours proposals from artists & productions which:

You don’t have to meet all of these criteria to be eligible to apply.


Our core audience demographic are London-based, 25-35 year olds who engage in cultural and experiences. They are often actively engaged on social and online and are actively seeking out fun, exciting, or interesting things to do. We also attract a large amount of artists, makers, and industry folks actively looking to see new and exciting work.

Productions and Artists that are based outside of London (both domestic and international) have had success at VAULT Festival previously, but they have to work harder in order to get an audience as they don’t necessarily have the existing audience to build from. If you are based outside of London, it’s worth considering this before applying and showing that you’ve considered these challenges in your application.

Artist Selection

We programme artists with a range of experience; from debut shows through to established artistic entities. We look for evidence that the artist can achieve what they’re laying in their application. This evidence is best shown in the attachment of scrips, reviews for previous or current shows, photo or video documentation of previous or current shows, websites, trailers, and biogs of the individuals and partners involved in the creative team.

We programme with diversity and representation in mind. We want the stories and voices heard to be varied and representative of as wider demographic as possible.

The Process

VAULT is a curated festival. This means the programming team explicitly chooses what will and won’t be in the programme. This is an inherently subjective, human-driven process, through which many aspects of a production are taken into account: genre, style, previous experience of the company/artist, primary target audience, similarity to other events in the programme, expected appeal, practical feasibility, and so on – it’s an infinite list of variables, which aren’t weighed up according to any fixed expectations or criteria.

Applications to VAULT Festival are reviewed by our Programming Panel, a team of curators led by our Heads of Programme for Theatre, Comedy & Lates, drawn from the industry and the Festival’s previous participants. We’re not looking for any one thing in particular – there is no sure-fire way to get into the programme.

VAULT Festival actively recruits team members who are practitioners and participants in the arts community. This means productions will occasionally be programmed which are produced by, or in collaboration with, or feature the work of, members of the VAULT team. Practitioners are not made ineligible for programming by joining the VAULT Festival team.

The role of the open application process is to allow artists and companies to let us know what they’d like to offer in an administratively manageable way. It is not the sole method by which the Festival is programmed. Artists/Productions can also be invited to be a part of the Festival outside of the ‘application process’. Productions can be specifically developed for the Festival through collaboration with or invitation by the programming team. The programming team uses a variety of methods, and draw upon their own experiences and networks, to put together a unique festival programme each year.

We receive far more applications than can be programmed each year. This means that each year, without exception, we are forced to turn away shows which the programming team likes. It’s not just the obvious limitations of time and space that determine this; in keeping with the goal of creating a broad festival, there are limits on the amount of work of similar themes or styles that we can put into the programme.

The Programming Team

The Programming Team for VAULT Festival 2020 consists of:
Festival Directors: Mat Burt & Andy George
Head of Theatre & Performance: Bec Martin-Williams
Head of Comedy: Brid Kirby
Head of Lates: Laura Drake Chambers
The Programming Panel is currently being confirmed

The programming team are best reached by emailing, but please read through the Application Guide carefully before getting in touch about Applications.