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Irish venues to reopen as Arts Council receives €20m

The Irish govt has brought forward the reopening of venues and festivals and boosted Arts Council funding, but social distancing remains a sticking point for the sector

By IQ on 23 Jun 2020

Irish venues to reopen as Arts Council receives €20m

Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently revised reopening plans

image © Stephen McCarthy/MoneyConf

Music venues will be permitted to reopen earlier than expected in the Republic of Ireland following revisions to the country’s reopening plan, but the Arts Council warns that audience capacities will be “severely curtailed” due to distancing regulations.

The Irish government recently announced changes to its reopening roadmap, bringing forward the reopening of venues – which can now admit up to 50 people (indoors) and 200 people (outdoors) – and has allowed festivals and cultural gatherings to resume from 20 July, rather than from 10 August.

The capacity limit on indoor events will be increased to 100 people indoors and to 500 for outdoor shows until the end of August, when a current ban on events over 5,000 people is set to expire.

Although confirming that no “mass gatherings” will take place until 30 August at the earliest, Irish prime minister (taoiseach) Leo Varadkar says that “if things continue to go in the right direction and if the virus stays suppressed I think we could see some smaller outdoor mass gatherings in September.

“Maybe outdoor cultural events of a few thousand people, maybe 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 but unlikely to be more than that.”

“If things continue to go in the right direction and if the virus stays suppressed I think we could see some smaller outdoor mass gatherings in September”

The Irish Arts Council, which recently received a €20 million boost to its yearly funding allocation, bringing it up to €100m for the year, has warned that social distancing measures and capacity limits means venues will only be able to operate at 15% capacity on average.

In a report published by the council’s Expert Advisory Group, a socially distanced seating plan for the Town Hall Theatre Galway shows the 400-capacity venue able to sell tickets for only 24 seats.

Citing a recent governmental report on the reinstating of economic activity, the Arts Council advisory group states: “The arts/culture sector is likely to be amongst the last to recover when this crisis is over given the huge uncertainty around the recovery of both participant and audience confidence.

“While physical distancing remains in place, it will be extremely difficult to predict a return to normality with any certainty.”

In addition to the €20m emergency funding the council has received to help the sector through the Covid-19 crisis, the advisory group has asked for a €30m sustainability fund to continue to support the sector throughout 2021.

The Irish Arts Council estimates that 117,000 events will have been cancelled in 2020 by the organisations it funds, with an estimated net deficit of €6.4 million by the end of 2020 for those same organisations.

Photo: Stephen McCarthy/MoneyConf  (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)


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