White Light’s Apprenticeship Scheme: Going Underground at VAULT Festival


VAULT Festival is London’s biggest, boldest and bravest arts and entertainment festival. Founded in 2012, it is located inside the Waterloo tunnels and annually hosts over 400 shows from over 2,000 artists. It features the best new writing in theatre and comedy along with immersive experiences, late night parties and much more. Since its inception, WL has supported the Festival by supplying the complete lighting and rigging solutions. The Festival is also an opportunity for the company’s apprentices to work on-site as part of the technical installation.

VAULT Festival is produced by Mat Burt and Andy George of the Heritage Arts Company. Andy, who is also Head of Production, comments: “The Festival exists to provide opportunities for visiting companies to present work. But it also exists to further the lives and careers of those we work with too; hence why we were so keen to get WL’s apprentices on board. It’s an agenda driven by WL’s Managing Director Bryan Raven who wanted to give the apprentices a chance to experience the hands-on, multi-natured, exciting environment of the Festival. Much like he used to do up at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival back when he was first starting out, he wanted the apprentices to experience something that can only be learned ‘on the job’. Fringe festivals can shape the careers of those backstage and behind-the-scenes just as much as those onstage – and we’re no different”.

Prior to the Festival, the apprentices worked with VAULT’s Head and Deputy Head of Lighting to fit up all of their performance and public spaces. There are 11 venues, 5 public areas, and a range of vehicle and pop up venues; all of which are built from scratch. During the festival, the apprentices work with everything from flying in chain hoists and truss, to rigging, cabling, and plotting. They also help deal with tech and dress rehearsals, daily maintenance, troubleshoot when problems arise, help with turnarounds between performances and even operate shows as well.

Andy comments: “With around 32 different performances per day, this normally includes at least four new shows, so the programme is constantly changing. As a result, a lot of what the apprentices are learning is to work with a wide range of people, challenge particular circumstances and find the best and most efficient ways to problem-solve. This, coupled with the hands-on skills of rigging, cabling, patching and programming means they are gaining hands-on experience of all the necessities of working in the theatre and events lighting world”.

This year’s intake of apprentices have worked once again on this year’s Festival which was the biggest one yet. It opened on 23rd January and will run until 17th March. WL’s Managing Director Bryan Raven comments: “As an organisation, we make it a priority to offer our apprentices training that is both hands-on and  transferable for when they complete their studies and pursue a career within the industry. VAULT Festival provides us with the invaluable opportunity for them to do just this”.

Andy concludes: “We love working with the apprentices. It’s an opportunity for us to pass on the exciting learning opportunity that the Festival is to people who really thrive and benefit from it. The apprentices form the core of the lighting crew we work with and without their passion, energy and support, the Festival wouldn’t be what it is”.

Photos courtesy of VAULT Festival.