Binge Fringe Magazine

NEWS: VAULT Festival Organisers Announce Shock Permanent Closure of Festival and Planned Venue

The charity behind VAULT Festival, VAULT Creative Arts, have announced the permanent closure of both the Festival and their planned year-round Venue in Central London. The move comes as a devastating blow to London’s creative scene, as the festival had a long-held reputation for platforming Marginalised Voices and Early Career Artists, covering genres from Stand-up Comedy, to Theatre, Circus, Cabaret, and more.

It was announced at 11:00 today that funding initially secured to revive the Festival and provide a planned new permanent home had fallen through. Despite the closure of the Festival and New Venue, VAULT Creative Arts will continue to operate ”The Glitch’ in the Waterloo area of the city, which runs both as a cafe, bar, and creative space with a small basement venue. The Glitch has become for supporting emerging artists and LGBTQ+ collectives through programming across its two spaces.

VAULT Festival was co-founded by Andy George and Mat Burtcher in 2012. George had since remained as Director of the Festival, piloting the organisation through its’ 2023 eviction from long-time home ‘The Vaults’ located in the tunnels underneath Waterloo Station. The Festival has followed a turbulent trajectory of highs and lows since then, raising money both from the public and private investors with the aim of securing a new home.

It was initially announced that VAULT had secured funding for a new permanent home in Central London, which was to be built in time for a launch in Autumn of this year. It was planned for the venue to host year-round events, and two five-week long festivals every year, each boasting 250-300 unique shows. The planned new model would have allowed over 1,700 artists to both begin and elevate their careers annually.

The Festival had long been praised by artists for providing an affordable and accessible platform and building collaborative financial and creative relationships. The festival’s model involved far less risk than taking work self-funded to comparable festivals like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe or Brighton Fringe, and arrangements at the new venue were intended to extend this offer of a ‘de-risked’ creative opportunity further.

In its’ entirety, VAULT Festival gave platform to 3,000 unique shows from over 12,000 emerging artists. 465,000 audience members attended performances across the years from London and beyond.

Andy George said of today’s announcement:

“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.”

Analysis – ‘It’s Time to Celebrate VAULT Festival’s Long Legacy of Hard Graft, Intrepid Programming, and Diverse Base of Supporters from all Across the World.’

It was deeply heartbreaking to me, as a Fringe Festival junkie, that the first VAULT Festival I attended in person was announced within the same month to be the last held in the famed tunnels under Waterloo. A renewed sense of purpose and passion exuded from the Festival’s team upon the announcement that they had triumphantly secured a new home – and today’s announcement comes as a winding hit to the stomach of an artistic base who shared the team’s deep passion for bold, daring creative work.

As well as giving ourselves time to mourn, it is also endlessly important to celebrate what VAULT Festival achieved. Such a wide-ranging, diverse, and intrepid programme could only be achieved through hard graft from both the Festival’s organisers and its’ hardcore base of supporters – from artists to audience – and here’s to hoping that all involved continue onto illustrious careers that demonstrate the ambitious and excellent values that the Festival held.

The opportunity to use new state of the art accessible performance spaces, rehearsal studios, technical equipment, and access to a team dedicated to elevating the careers of the marginalised has now dissipated. So to borrow an old phrase – ‘Don’t mourn, organise!’

Or perhaps, to put it more sympathetically, ‘Don’t (just) mourn, organise…’ and continue to celebrate what an incredible platform VAULT Festival was for unheard creative voices.

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2024), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023-24), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them