A number of live performances will be trialled from next week in a major boost to the arts and culture sector.

The National Concert Hall will stage a special Christmas Celebration featuring the Irish Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, 19 December. 

Minister for Arts Catherine Martin launched the new schedule of events at the NCH.

''These events are an important step in showing that these are controlled spaces which can operate safely at this time,'' Ms Martin said.

The NCH said strict Covid-19 controls will be in place for performers. ''There will be a restricted-capacity audience of 100 and we will be asking those attending for their feedback to help in planning for future concerts,'' said Maura McGrath, chairperson of the NCH.

Theatres are currently closed under Level 3. However, from next week Dublin's Abbey Theatre will host a limited number of performances during Christmas.

'Theatre for One' will open for a limited run from 18 December until 31 December.

Six five minute plays will be staged by leading Irish playwrights including Marina Carr, Stacey Gregg, Emmet Kirwan, Louise Lowe, Mark O'Rowe, and Enda Walsh.

''This pilot [project] gives a message of hope looking towards 2021 for theatre artists and the wider theatre community in Ireland," Neil Murray, co-director of the Abbey Theatre told RTÉ News.

Theatre for One (and a Little One) for one adult and one child aged ten or under will also be held at the Abbey on 29, 30 and 31 December.

The highlight will be newly commissioned work by Roddy Doyle, Sonya Kelly, Louis Lovett and Pauline McLynn.

"Our team has completely adapted their working practices and put bespoke plans in place to ensure the safety of our artists and audiences on each individual project," Mr Murray said.

Since the lifting of restrictions earlier this month, museums, galleries and cinemas have reopened in controlled ways.

The Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce has recommended that the treatment of cultural activities and venues under the Living With Covid-19 plan be reviewed.

It has argued that many cultural centres, venues, galleries and cinemas offer large areas with ample circulation, controlled auditoria and spaces capable of facilitating large numbers of people in accordance with public health guidelines.

Theatres and live venues hope the next step is eventually to allow other arts and culture organisers open in a responsible way.

''These events will help to demonstrate the capacity of the sector to take creative and responsible approaches to the challenges posed by the pandemic,'' according to Catherine Martin.

In October's budget, €50 million worth of funding was made available for the commercial entertainment industry.

There are 35,000 people employed in the sector and many have been left without steady employment since March.

Maureen Kennelly, director of the Arts Council, has welcomed the initiative.

"This test period should help ensure a much wider availability of live performance early in the new year. This would be greatly welcomed by both audiences and artists."