Artists and arts organisations across the country are suffering enormous financial losses and facing an uncertain future as a direct result of the Covid-19 public health crisis, new data from the Arts Council shows.

Surveys carried out by the Arts Council, the government agency for funding and developing the arts, show that 90% of artists have been impacted by cancelled or postponed events, with a great many describing the effect on their financial situation as 'severe' and almost half applying for the Government’s Covid-19 emergency payment.

Arts organisations estimated the loss of audience at 2.4 million people and growing, with more than 12,000 events cancelled and hundreds of staff members being laid off.

Arts Council Chair Professor Kevin Rafter has said the information gathered from the surveys will help the Arts Council better understand the impact of jobs and livelihoods, and the responses needed to help the sector come through the months ahead.

"The Arts Council will work with government and local authorities to put in place a coordinated national plan for the arts," he said.

"We will work closely with arts resource organisations to identify necessary and appropriate supports and interventions to help the arts sector."

Minister for Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, said: "I want to thank the Arts Council and all of the artists and arts practitioners who contributed to this very valuable survey.

"It confirms that the arts sector has been deeply affected by the measures introduced to protect public health in the face of Covid-19.

"The Government has engaged from an early stage in this emergency with The Arts Council and all stakeholders in the arts to assess the impacts of Covid-19 and provide the supports required by the sector's organisations and those working in it.

"This engagement will increase as we work together to overcome the considerable challenges ahead as we re-open Ireland."

The two reports set out the findings of an online survey carried out with 265 arts organisations in the week of 23-27 March, and 1,853 professional artists between 3-13 April, and together provide a sense of the scale of the impact on the arts sector and the steps necessary to ensure a strong sector emerges out of the COVID-19 crisis.

The agency said artists and arts organisations had been playing their part in helping people get through the current crisis with hundreds of online events for people at home everywhere in Ireland, and was proud of the resilience of the arts sector, but that the data showed that a lot more assistance was now required to speed the recovery.

This work is one part of a ‘Planning for Recovery’ research programme to provide evidence for the design of responsive and targeted actions that will support arts organisations and artists.