Artistic Criteria & Selection

We create curated festivals. This means our Programming Team explicitly chooses what will be in the programme. This is an inherently subjective, human-driven process, through which many aspects of a show & the team applying are taken into account. We create a framework in order to assess applications fairly.

Applications are reviewed by our Programming Panel which is led by our Head of Programming alongside Heads of Comedy and Late Night Programming, and a selected team of industry professionals. Our panel is representative of many genres and artforms, as well as underrepresented groups in the wider industry. Every application is read by a minimum of two readers.

We assess applications based on the following criteria:

Concept & Form

• The concept of the show is the key ideas and narratives, and the form is how those ideas are communicated (style, approach, creative choices etc). Both the form & concept which lie at the heart of every show. We’re interested in concepts that challenge the status quo, especially from new or underrepresented perspectives and in forms that are innovative and push the boundaries of live performance.
— Is the concept and/or form interesting? Original? New? Important?
— Have the concept and form been communicated clearly by the applicants – do we have a good sense of what the show will be?
— Have the applicants demonstrated an understanding of the complexity of the issues, topics, or forms they’re exploring?
— What makes this show stand out from the crowd? Is the form pushing the boundaries of live performance? Is it from an interesting or new perspective?


• We look for evidence that the applicants can achieve what they’re laying out in their application to a high standard. This evidence can be shown in the attachment of scripts, reviews for previous or current shows, photo or video documentation of previous or current shows, music/song samples, websites, trailers, and biogs of the team and partners involved.
— Is there evidence that the show will be delivered to a high quality? (Example evidences above.)
— Have the applicants demonstrated the understanding of the importance of having a good team on board?
— Is the team involved exciting? Have they given us something about themselves that would suggest they have something exciting to share, have they got past experience of doing shows, or undergone training?


• We want to present an inclusive, representative, and diverse programme – both in the artists presenting as well as the stories being told and the form those stories take.
• We consider the authenticity of a story and the perspective it’s being told from when considering whether something is truly representative.
• Our view on representation is intersectional. We acknowledge the complex, cumulative effects of multiple forms of discrimination especially in the experiences of marginalised and under-represented individuals or groups.
• The demographics of artists & shows we are looking to actively represent are:
— Black & African Diaspora Led
— Asian Diaspora Led
— Migrant or Refugee Led
— Female Led
— Non-binary Led
— Disabled Artists Led
— Neurodiverse Led
— Learning Disability Led
— Learning Difficulty Led
— Working Class Led
(You can find more on Learning Difficulties and Learning Disabilities here.
• We ask artists to self-identify – these questions in the form are optional.
• This does not mean that if applicants don’t fall into any of these categories, they won’t be programmed.
• (“Led” for us means the lead artist or decision makers or the majority of the team in ensembles).


• We want VAULT Festival to be a useful and important platform for artists & shows to develop in a meaningful way; a springboard to hone skills, develop careers, and have the space to take creative risks.
— Will a run with us allow the artists and/or show to develop in a meaningful way?
— Are we the right place for this show and the artists involved? Could they have a similar experience elsewhere?
— Will the team and show fit into the ethos and spirit of VAULT Festival in a kind and collaborative way?


• It’s important that we have confidence that there is an audience for the show and that the applicant has provided evidence that they understand who their target audience are and how to effectively reach them.
— Have the applicants provided evidence of a marketing plan or an indication that they know how they’d approach it finding & securing an audience?
— Is there an audience for this show and/or applicant? Will people book tickets to see this?
— For applicants without an existing London audience, has the applicant provided additional evidence that they understand the harder challenges they will face in finding an audience?
— Does this show tap into a new or existing audience that we haven’t reached yet or are looking to attract?

We favour applications which:

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 and do not believe the two are mutually exclusive. We’re lucky to have an engaged, socially conscious audience. Exciting work comes in all forms.

We appreciate VAULT-specific ideas. We like work which uses the unique venues we create as a strength. We want to know you’ve considered 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 our framework, VAULT Festival might not be the right place for it.

We veer away from applications which:
N.B. About Shows Programmed for VAULT Festival 2022

Whilst we can’t guarantee a slot for every show programmed as part of VAULT Festival 2022, we’re committed to making sure work previously programmed receives a platform and an audience. Work that has not received a London run in the interim will be prioritised. If your work was programmed for V22, or in the V20 ‘Lost Week’ and you would like to be programmed in VAULT Festival 2023, please get in touch with our Head of Programming, Bec Martin, on [email protected].


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