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This week’s pilot to re-open the National Concert Hall and the Abbey Theatre is that journey’s starting point. A positive signal for everyone in the performing arts community of the Minister’s commitment to ensuring theatres can reopen safely and soon. All of the country’s theatres and arts centres, artists and production companies, festivals and producers are ready and willing to start their reopening journey and appreciate the work of the Minister and the Department to secure this pilot opportunity . Safety is paramount and the sector’s commitment to the highest standards is in no doubt. In a crisis 2020, Government and Arts Council support for the sector’s organisations and independent artists has been very welcome. But now after nearly a year of cancellations, postponements and rescheduling, it’s time to start creating, rehearsing, performing and programming work in our theatres and arts centres again.

This reopening is possible and low-risk because theatres and arts centres already operate to the highest health and safety standards. Everyone working in the performing arts is familiar and compliant with the full complement of public health and safety as well as the new Covid-19 standards. We believe that Theatre Forum’s Guidelines, Working and Creating Work during Covid-19, developed in collaboration with event safety experts SLUA, will enable theatres and arts centres to maintain exemplary health and safety standards in controlled environments, ensuring the safety of artists, arts workers and audiences. The sooner we start this journey, the sooner artists get back to work and audiences will access cultural experiences in their theatres and arts centres.