After a dynamic programme of free rehearsal space, networking opportunities, workshops and panels, VAULT Creative Studios has come to an end – having supported 500+ artists and freelancers across its four week run. Set up by VAULT Creative Arts as an immediate and dynamic response to the cancellation of VAULT Festival 2022, this brand new programme of events provided support, resources and creative opportunities to those most affected by the loss of the live eight week festival programme.

VAULT Space supported over 100 artists and companies with free rehearsal space to use as they wished – for rehearsals, meetings, workshops, content creation and show sharings. An additional videography offer from VAULT Festival ensured that those looking to film their show for programming elsewhere had the means to do so, and the ability to host sharings meant that shows could still gain feedback from an invited live audience.

VAULT Workshops offered 36 online and in-person sessions covering creative development, practical up-skilling and wellbeing support. Reaching over 400 participants across four weeks, this strand of the programme allowed artists and freelancers to discover new skills and elevate existing ones. Alongside workshops and Q&As covering specific creative practises such as Writing for Television with BBC Script Editor Josh Treacy and Tour Booking, offers such as BSL & Deaf Awareness Training, Mental Health First Aid, and Basics of Intimacy Coordination allowed participants to broaden their knowledge of safe, inclusive and accessible ways of working offstage as well as on.

Leading industry figures also contributed to the workshop programme. Les Enfants Terribles‘ James Seager reflected on learnings from 20 years with the company, Punchdrunk Enrichment provided an interactive session examining different pathways to producing, and Boundless Theatre presented a one-day festival providing space for artists to imagine and discuss ideas for a better industry. An online discussion with Lyn Gardner and VAULT Festival’s Head of Programming, Bec Martin, examined the challenges facing early-career artists, the changing nature of theatre criticism, and a deep dive into what the future of theatre might look like post-pandemic.

The VAULT Connect strand of the programme provided network building opportunities for artists to meet, and share ideas – always one of the biggest draws to  VAULT Festival. Artists were able to engage through digital events, including Zoom ‘speed dating’ with Off West End and regional venues and organisations, a Q&A with leading Edinburgh Fringe producers and programmers, and a discussion on mental health and wellbeing with Adam Bambrough, CEO & Founder of  Wellbeing in the Arts, and trained counsellor Ali Ball. Many of the workshops, panel discussions and talks have been made available for free as video resources on the VAULT Festival website.

VAULT Masterclasses provided space for people to learn brand new creative skills from leading practitioners. Introductory sessions to drag with Me The Drag Queen, and burlesque with House of Burlesque’s Tempest Rose, brought a flavour of VAULT Festival’s famous late night programming to curious beginners. Masterclasses in improvisation with the Free Association and stand-up with Dec Munro, co-founder of Angel Comedy’s The Bill Murray, proved popular not only with those looking to learn the ropes of performing comedy, but also individuals and groups looking to sharpen their self confidence.

The VAULT Comedy Festival programme is renowned for supporting a number of new and unrepresented acts, giving them space across the Festival to showcase work-in-progress material or their debut solo hours. As a response to the loss of the 2022 Festival, an Unrepped Comedy Showcase took place on 3rd February. Performing to an invited audience of industry, friends and family, nine comedians who would have performed at VAULT Festival 2022 were showcased in a one off event – which provided additional post-show space to meet with agents, promoters and producers.

VAULT Festival 2022 would have employed 120 freelancers this year across roles such as Front of House, Box Office and Tech. A bespoke series of opportunities and support were specifically created for these freelancers, enabling them to gain new skills, qualifications, and experiences. These included practical workshops in box office, tech, producing, and arts management, courses in first aid, conflict resolution, anti-racism and accessibility training, CV drop in sessions and career advice, and sessions in the skills of live performance, such as writing, performing and directing.

VAULT Creative Studios has been the latest initiative from VAULT Creative Arts – a new, year-round, not-for-profit organisation which is in the process of applying for charitable status. VAULT Creative Arts will now be looking ahead to the future, which includes celebrating the Festival’s 10th anniversary with VAULT X: a new series of micro-commissions which will bring together some of the biggest names to come out of VAULT in the last 10 years to create original, online content, accessible for free. You can keep an eye on the latest updates, events and opportunities on the VAULT Festival website and social media channels.

Susan Hingley, who was due to bring new show Petals to this years’ Festival, said:

“The three zoom seminars I took part in were super useful and encouraging, especially the London Off-West End programming session, where I got to speak one-on-one with producers from the likes of the Arcola, Pleasance and Kings Heads, who I have written to in the past. It was fantastic to get programming advice, pitch my show and make a connection that I can build on.”
Freelancers Olivia Barratt and Shane Solenki, who would both have been part of the Front of House team for VAULT Festival 2022 said:
VAULT Creative Studios has been an absolute saviour over the last few weeks. It’s provided such a great insight into all corners of the arts industry and made me so much more confident in my skills and abilities as I look to take the next step in my career.”
“Really can’t convey how grateful I am for the opportunity to take part in these workshops – I think VAULT has done a brilliant job at providing a comprehensive package to artists, post the decision to cancel the festival.”
On VAULT Creative Studios and VAULT Creative Arts’ upcoming events, Director & Co-Founder, Andy George, and Executive Director, Adam Gray, said:
“While the loss of the 2022 Festival was devastating, we’re pleased that VAULT Creative Studios has had such a positive impact on those affected by the closure. The number of individuals taking part in opportunities has been heartening, but has also demonstrated the real need for support across the sector. Both artists and freelancers have experienced huge losses personally, creatively and financially throughout the pandemic, and it’s vital that schemes like VAULT Creative Studios respond and provide solutions to support their efforts, as well as celebrating their talents and work.”
As the sector recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are numerous ways for fans of VAULT Festival to continue supporting both the festival and year round activity. The team are maintaining a dedicated webpage that lists all the VAULT Festival 2022 show transfers,  happening all across the UK.  As well as promoting shows that have secured a life elsewhere, this ongoing resource will provide artists with a comprehensive overview of potential programming venues and collate opportunities that have been offered by many theatres, arts organisations and individuals.Alongside activities on offer as part of the four week programme, VAULT Festival has paid out over £12,000 in audience ticket donations to artists who would have been part of this years’ programme. The support of the Festival’s core audience has allowed us to minimise some of the financial burden on artists following 2022’s cancellation.

Those looking to support the Festival going forward can make one-off donations to VAULT and receive exclusive treats as a thank you, including limited edition t-shirts and prints. The VAULT Membership Scheme also allows supporters to help VAULT Creative Arts continue their work of inspiring people to effect positive change through creativity. Membership also directly supports the organisation’s ability to continue to make our Festivals and programmes affordable and accessible to all, develop our opportunities with New and Early-Career artists, and fund important projects locally to spread creativity in the community.

While the loss of the full VAULT Festival 2022 is still acutely felt, VAULT Creative Studios demonstrates the power of targeted support from venues and organisations – and the need to help artists and freelancers at a grassroots level as the sector begins to recover.

To find out more about VAULT Festival, visit here…
Written by Theatrefullstop