Every artistic boss in the country, every programmer, certainly every director, and I would hazard a good sum that every technician and actor knows the feeling. No, I would say that anyone working in the arts knows the feeling.

Some people use the swan image – smooth sailing on top, frantic business down below. Others use metaphors like the start of a rollercoaster, or a mountain climb, or an airplane taking off.

I’m not sure any of them do justice to the truth of what it feels like to be in the final days of the submissions window for VAULT. We put the deadline at the end of August so everyone has a chance to catch their breath after the mid-point of Edinburgh. Whether you were there or not, I’m sure all across the country you heard the monstrous, collective sigh of relief last Wednesday as Edinburgh Fringe Festival rolled into its second half.

And at VAULT, this means that there is precious little time before the grease is applied to the slope, or, depending on your choice of metaphor, the rollercoaster tips over the edge, the mountain inclines sharply, or the swan, er, snuffles up a gram of an unknown but powerful amphetamine.

A silent morning on emails from Mat means that the afternoon will bring a revelation in the wizardry he’s planning for next year festival – a new colour palette, a new capability for emailing ticket holders with useful information, or a handy little website widget… Mat is like Vulcan in his forge, and when the doors are closed, you can be sure that something amazing is happening inside.

While Andy deals – as he always does, in a routinely superhuman way – with ten different projects on his plate, he also has a Sauron-like eye on everything. Where there is room for improvement, there you will find a set of notes in Andy’s handwriting. And in these moments, he is like Archimedes, searching only for the right lever, and the right place to stand, for it is his intention to move the world. And he will.

Day to day, we are all desperately flirting with spreadsheets, coyly asking them to help us process the hundreds of applications towards confirmation, contracting, invoicing, box office reconciliations. Every year these processes get more and more refined. They have to, because we want to make the best possible opportunity for the artists who use VAULT as a platform.

We will shortly be able to confirm our guest judges for the year. We’ve selected a handful of people to help us to read and understand all the submissions that are being sent in. It’s the first time we’ve formally announced this as part of the process, so we hope it helps.

In the meantime – please just watch the swan from above. The happy, happy swan. So much energy. So happy.



Tim Wilson is Director of Strategy. As one of three Festival Directors, he has joint responsibility for the programming and delivery of the Festival. Tim spends much of the year seeking out new partnerships & collaborators with the intention of keeping VAULT going and planning for the future.