As decisions have been announced today about indoor dining being deferred until later in July, levels of uncertainty around what’s possible for arts events have also risen sharply. Here’s an overview of the guidelines that are coming and those currently in place so you and your teams can consider the various announcements and implications for your programme in context.

Since 7 June…
Arts Events Indoors – maximum of 50 people
Since 7 June, cinemas, theatres and arts centres (only in so far as they operate as a theatre or cinema), have been able to open with a maximum of 50 people, in groups of no more than 6, attending arts events. Social distancing of 2 metres applies in fixed seating with arrangements to ensure public safety and no intermingling of groups takes place. In larger capacity arts venues, it’s a maximum of 100 people where strict 2 metre, seated, social distancing and one-way controls for entry and exit can be implemented.
Arts centres with gallery spaces and cultural indoor attractions, as detailed in Schedule 2 of the current regulations, can provide general admittance to the public. 

Arts Events Outdoors – maximum of 100 people
From the same time in early June, the numbers now permitted at organised outdoor arts events are a maximum of 100 for the majority of events, with a maximum of 200 for outdoor venues and stadia with a minimum accredited capacity of 5,000.

From 5 July…
Arts Events Indoors – no change from the maximum of 50 people
The numbers of people attending indoors arts events will not increase as originally planned and remain at the current level of 50 people, in groups of no more than 6. Social distancing of 2 metres and fixed seating continue to apply with arrangements to ensure public safety and no intermingling of groups in place. In larger capacity arts venues, the maximum of 100 people with strict 2 metre seated social distancing and one-way controls for entry and exit remain in place too. There’s no change either for Arts Centres with gallery spaces and cultural indoor attractions providing general admittance to the public.

Other indoor activities – reopening plan on hold until 19 July
Note the significant change that indoor activities, other than those detailed above, will not yet proceed as expected on 5 July. These plans for indoor activities including workshops,  classes, training, exercise and dance classes taking place in a theatre or arts centre are now pending the implementation of a system to verify vaccination or immunity. The Government expects to devise their implementation plan by 19 July. 

Events Outdoors – maximum increased to 200 people 
The numbers permitted at organised outdoor events will increase as planned, to a maximum of 200 attendees for the majority of stadia, and to 500 for stadia/venues with capacity greater than 5,000, but with all the appropriate protective measures in place. 

Pilot events…
You’ll have heard about several sport and cultural pilot live events taking place in the last month with bigger audiences than are possible at general indoor and outdoor art events. The purpose of these pilots, taking place with the support of the Department, is to assess logistical arrangements to implement necessary protective measures. This will inform the Department’s guidance for venues due to reopen later in July and August.

Other Government supports

Pandemic Unemployment Payment
Given the decision to defer the lifting of certain public health restrictions, and the associated risk of pandemic-related losses of employment among people who have just returned to work in anticipation of businesses re-opening next week, the planned closure of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment to new entrants will be deferred to midnight on 7th July 2021 rather than on midnight on 30th June 2021 as previously agreed.

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme
EWSS will be extended to 31 December 2021. For Q3, the Government has decided to broadly maintain the status quo for EWSS, including the enhanced rates of support and the reduced rate of Employers’ PRSI with a modification to widen eligibility.
For Q4, the Government has approved the extension of the EWSS, however, it is considered too early yet to prescribe the precise operational parameters of the scheme that should apply for that quarter and decisions in that regard would be taken closer to the time around the end of August / early September.

More info on all additional Government supports here.


  • A Framework for Performing Arts Venues guidelines. The Theatre Forum guidelines for the safe reopening of theatres and arts centres as workplaces. These will be updated as Government guidance and reopening plans evolve.
  • Safe Creation and Staging of Work during COVID-19guidelinesTheatre Forum guidelines for the creation and staging of work  for production companies and producers heading into rehearsals.
  • Professional Dance Safety: Covid Guidance for Professional Dancers
    This Dance Ireland guidance is intended to support professional projects or productions, employers, performers, and creative personnel working in dance or movement; Professional performers, for whom dance performance is their main occupation, and pre-professional dancers, who are undertaking advanced level training or are recent graduates in dance.
  • Young People, Children & Education – COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines
    These Arts Council guidelines are for cultural providers of activities for young people and children operating in contexts that vary by location, funding provider, or age group including activities provided by the Department of Education and Skills in primary and post-primary settings, higher and further education, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth in Early Learning and Care, School-Age Childcare and Youth Work, private and commercial ventures as well as indoors and outdoors activities.
  • COVID-19 Guidelines for the Safe Presentation of Festivals and Live Events
    The Arts Council and Fáilte Ireland have come together in partnership to develop guidelines in line with the government’s COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021-The Path Ahead to help festival and event organisers minimise the risk of the transmission of COVID-19 at festivals and individual events, and to rebuild confidence and trust among attendees.The guidance is designed to support festivals and event organisers in the preparation, execution and safe presentation of festivals and events during the pandemic; it also contains response planning, helpful links, templates and examples for users. A link to the guidance and its appendices is now available to you on the Arts Council website. The link is here.

Membership 2021

We are so grateful to all our members for your continued support of the Theatre Forum.
We are now trialling members using the website to renew memberships – thanks so much to all who have already renewed. We’ve written a full guide on how to renew through the website and as always we’re on hand to help if anyone has any questions. 

Very best wishes, 

Anna, Irma, & Katie