About €25 million is to be provided to the live performance sector to compensate it for the Government’s decision to halve the capacity of venues for the duration of the latest Covid-19 restrictions.
The supports are in addition to €25 million given to the sector in the Budget. The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media said in a statement: “Unfortunately the epidemiological situation is such that we are not where we expected to be.”
The latest curbs, which were announced on Friday and come into force today, are due to run until January 9th.
“It is understood that a number of performance events will find it a challenge to run at 50 per cent, and some may cancel,” the Department added.
“Where events are proceeding it is a matter for venues to manage to capacities. With this in mind, financial supports have been developed to assist businesses in keeping afloat during this difficult time.”
Minister for Culture and the Arts, Catherine Martin, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath met representatives of the live music sector on Monday.
“My focus is on getting a scheme in place to allow venues to keep their doors open even with reduced capacity. We are determined as a Government that they can keep their doors open,” Ms Martin said afterwards.
The Gaiety, Abbey and Bord Gáis Energy theatres in Dublin all issued short statements asking customers to bear with them as they consider how best to cope with the reduced capacity.
The Abbey said it was working through a plan for any performances that had sold above 50 per cent capacity and would be in touch with impacted ticket holders in the coming days to arrange new tickets, a credit note or a refund.
The promoter for musician Christy Moore has cancelled tickets for a number of sold-out shows at Vicar Street in Dublin, which are to be rescheduled for the same dates but at 50 per cent capacity.
Moore is midway through a 10-night residency at the venue and his show tonight has been cancelled completely. His other shows will go ahead on the same nights as planned but with reduced capacity. Ticket holders will be refunded and can seek to purchase tickets for the smaller gigs.
Promoter Peter Aiken said the situation was "pretty messy, but there is no other way of doing it. We are trying to make the best of a very bad situation, but for other shows it is not financially viable".
Mr Aiken said no decision had been made yet on three sold-out Villagers shows due to take place later this month, nor Damien Dempsey’s four sold-out shows in the lead-up to Christmas.
In a statement, Ticketmaster said: “We are still awaiting instruction from event organisers who are working through these new restrictions. We will reach out to fans as soon as we know more.”