Northern Ireland’s arts sector has already lost nearly £4 million of income due to the impact of Covid-19, as the scale of the crisis becomes clear.
According to a survey from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, organisations anticipate losing an average of about £36,700 each in the three-month period between March and May as a result of the pandemic.
Individual artists that responded to the survey put their own losses at an average of £3,756 per person over the same period, as respondents exposed the severe consequences of closing venues and cancelling events.
The survey was held across 16 days in March and April, counting nearly 400 responses: 60% of these were individuals, while 37% answered on behalf of arts organisations.
Organisations responding believed they would lose £3.96 million between March and May alone, the survey found.
The results suggest that the financial impact of the crisis would vary significantly depending on the size of an organisation, but the overall response found the threat to the sector to be "severe and immediate".
Organisations that are highly dependent on earned income, such as ticket sales, are particularly vulnerable, the findings claim, but they also state there is a direct impact on the provision of all arts services.
Artists responding warned of the severe impact the crisis would have on their ability to support themselves and their families, with most reporting that contracts held at the time of the shut down have been terminated. Some said they had already had to seek financial help from friends and family.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland said: "Evidence indicates the financial impact of the coronavirus and subsequent lockdown will be considerable, with significant implications for some organisations on their ability to trade and artists to earn a living wage, many of whom rely entirely on their income as artists to support dependants.
"Some organisations have chosen to deliver services online, incurring additional costs as a consequence but maintaining some contact with customers. This was unlikely to yield the same level of income as face-to-face services and was thought by some to compromise artistic integrity."
Last month, Northern Ireland’s communities minister Deirdre Hargey pledged to put in place a £1 million emergency funding package to support the arts sector.
ACNI chief executive Roisin McDonough welcomed the move but warned of the "immense pressure" being put on the arts.