Arts Council of Northern Ireland – Guidance Manual for safe Reopening

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today, Wednesday 5th August 2020, published a comprehensive guidance manual, to support the safe reopening of arts performance venues, closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking its title from lines of a poem by Northern Ireland poet, Miriam Gamble, In the bubble of our making: reopening the arts in Northern Ireland, commissioned from Slua health and safety specialists, provides an extensive range of practical measures that will enable performance spaces, including theatres, arts centres, galleries, studios and arts hubs, to re-open to the public safely and in full compliance with current NI Executive and UK Government guidelines and regulations.

The guidance sets out the protocols, adjustments and equipment that will be required by venues to maintain social distancing and protect the health and wellbeing of audiences, performers, staff and participants. It covers all aspects of reopening, including risk assessments, staff training, capacity considerations and special provisions, so that audiences can be reassured that all the appropriate measures are in place and the environment they are entering is safe.

There is also a special section within the manual, ‘Creating Work’, which offers guidance for organisations, arts groups, individual practitioners and everyone engaged within the arts in taking those important steps back into working together safely to present public performances.

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:

“There is an enormous appetite for a return to live, in-person, arts, and we want to make sure that our venues have the most up-to-date guidance that will allow them to safely open their doors and welcome back audiences.  We are also keen to see arts organisations continue to develop the astonishing aptitude they have shown during the lockdown for adapting to circumstances and finding novel ways of reaching out to audiences. We can use this experience alongside the new guidance to expand our horizons and re-engage audiences in different ways, in different shapes and in different places. Out of the current challenges could emerge an altogether new and complementary model of how we make and present the arts in Northern Ireland.”

To download the manual, “In the bubble of our making: reopening the arts in Northern Ireland!, visit:

*The poem is from ‘On Fancying American Film Stars’, published in The Squirrels Are Dead (Bloodaxe Books 2010) by Miriam Gamble, whose third collection What Planet won the €10,000 Pigott Prize in May this year.

Please note the NI Executive steps to recovery for the Sport ,Cultural and leisure activities:

Northern Ireland is currently at Step 3 and we are awaiting a date for concert and theatre rehearsals resuming which we hope will be soon. You will find this guide useful in helping you to prepare safely for this stage, and reopening when next steps for theatres ,art centres and venues are announced.

Please check the NI Executive website before you embark on any reopening activity

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