A €25 million package has been announced to support the Arts and Culture sector recover from the Covid-19 emergency.

The funding will include bursaries and commissions to artists and arts organisations, and resources for museums and culture workers as they prepare for the reopening of society.

A total of €20 million will be allocated to the Arts Council bringing its allocation this year to €100 million. 

It says that priority areas for the extra funding include averting the closure of key organisations, expanded commissioning schemes for individual artists and arts organisations across all art forms, and expanded bursary schemes, open to artists and groups of artists to develop their professional practice.

Separately, €5 million has been set aside for measures including securing the future of key cultural and museum spaces and the production of high-quality digital art and on-line performances.

Announcing the additional funding the Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan said that she was "very aware of the challenges that artists have faced and also of the hugely important role that they have played in sustaining all of us in recent months."

"Many challenges lie ahead but the Government is determined to ensure that we have a vibrant arts and culture sector into the future," the Minister added.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Culture Minister Josepha Madigan pictured at announcement today

The National Campaign for the Arts, which had campaigned for a €20 million increase in funding to the Arts Council for 2020, described today's announcement as "a solid and authentic response to the Covid-19 crisis which has ravaged the nation's artists, arts workers and arts organisations."

The Director of the Arts Council Maureen Kennelly has said the approval of the package in additional supports for the arts is a 'landmark day' and a recognition by the government of the vital part that Irish culture plays in Irish life.

Ms Kennelly told RTÉ's News at One that it is an extremely welcome announcement given the significant and particular challenges facing the sector which is so strongly public-facing.

She thanked the Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan for listening and delivering on the package after several weeks of talks saying it would protect livelihoods and protect valuable infrastructure across the country.

She said the ability to work remotely is very difficult for the arts sector.

Ms Kennelly said an Ernest and Young analysis shows that the recession in the arts sector will impact the Irish GDP the tune of €250 million, with a loss of up to 18% of jobs.

She said until the science behind combating the virus is figured out the future remains challenging and while arts organisations and people are very imaginative at coming up with alternative spaces to present works, this presents many economic challenges.

She said the extra funding will also allow the Council to 'bolster and give balance to the sector' while we think about what a return will look like and figure out the difficulties.

She said that people have turned in great numbers to the arts over the last months and this shows how important the sector is to Irish life.

Later this week the Arts Council will publish the report of an Expert Advisory Group established last month to frame recommendations to assist the sector respond to the current crisis.

As well as the Chair and Director of the Arts Council, the other members of the group include Lenny Abrahamson, Anne Clarke, Angela Dorgan, Sarah Glennie, Martin Hayes, Fintan O'Toole, Dr Gabriel Scally. 

In relation to cultural activities involving larger crowds such as festivals, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told a press conference this afternoon that while they had said there should be no mass gatherings until 30 August at the earliest, "if things continue to go in the right direction and if the virus stays suppressed I think we could see some smaller outdoor mass gatherings in September."

"Maybe outdoor cultural events of a few thousand people, maybe 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 but unlikely to be more than that," Mr Varadkar said.

Mr Varadkar said that he thought that cinemas would be able to reopen in August as he understood that they would be able to ensure social distancing and make a profit. However he said that this was harder for live performances for theatres.

"That's going to be trickier but if its safe to do so, we'll do it," Mr Varadkar added.