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Cancellation of arts festival due to Omicron ‘will affect 2,500 creatives’

The London-based Vault Festival has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic for the last three years.

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(VAULT Creative Arts/PA)

(VAULT Creative Arts/PA)

(VAULT Creative Arts/PA)

The cancellation of an independent creative arts festival due to the surge of coronavirus is set to affect more than 2,500 staff and artists and will cost more than £1.6 million in lost revenue, the director has said.

Vault Festival, which showcases live performances and artists from the worlds of theatre, comedy and live entertainment, was due to take place across Waterloo, London, from January 25 to March 20.

The organisers, Vault Creative Arts, announced on Tuesday they had made the “gut-wrenching decision” to cancel the 10th anniversary of the festival due to the rise of Omicron cases and the added risk to staff, artists and audiences.

The festival had been due to feature hundreds of shows by independent artists from across the UK, including comedians Rosie Jones and Ivo Graham.

The festival was also cut short in 2020 due to the emergence of Covid-19, and the 2021 event had been postponed until this month due to the “significant financial and safety risks”.

The festival’s director and co-founder Andy George told the PA news agency the cancellation will directly affect more than 2,500 creative industry staff and artists.

The 2022 programme included 600 shows created by around 2,400 artists and workers, as well as around 120 freelancers to help deliver the spectacle.

He added that the cancellation will cost the organisation around £1,656,000 of its annual revenue, with a combined loss of around £3.4 million for the postponement of the two festivals.

The organisation had already paid out around £100,000 in costs for the 2022 event, most of which went to creative freelancers.

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Mr George told PA: “There is no doubt that the effect of this cancellation will have a significant financial impact on both our artists and the festival.

“We are working hard to minimise the effect of this impact and are devising new ways we can support our staff and artists as we speak.”

A previous statement by Mr George and the festival’s executive director, Adam Gray, said they were making the announcement with “broken hearts”.

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They said: “We have worked non-stop over the past 21 months to recover from the devastation caused by the lost week of 2020’s festival and the full postponement of 2021.

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(VAULT Creative Arts)

(VAULT Creative Arts)

(VAULT Creative Arts)

“Vault Festival 2022 was set to be our most exciting festival to date, marking our 10th anniversary year.

“The challenges posed by Covid-19 have always been at the forefront of our preparations and we’ve undertaken extensive scenario planning in order to be able to deliver a safe, welcoming and celebratory event that could overcome them.”

The Vault team added that the “utmost concern” was for the people they work with, and as the majority of shows were due to run for a week or less, the implications of Covid-forced isolation for performers would mean the shows would become “instantly untenable”.

Audiences will be offered the option of a refund or to donate the value of their ticket, with any donations to be split with the artist of that show as per previous agreements.

A new date has not been announced but the festival said it will be “closely monitoring the situation around Covid-19” and will bring live performances to audiences as soon as possible.

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