A new scheme to support off-peak entertainment in venues across the country will be brought to Cabinet by Minister for the Arts Catherine Martin.

€2.6m has been allocated to support entertainment in off-peak times to increase footfall in cities and towns later in the evening and night-time.

Under what is called the Night-Time Economy Support Scheme, pubs, nightclubs, cafés and other suitable licensed and unlicensed premises will be able to apply.

Funding will be available to trial a series of cultural activities such as music, comedy, dance, literature, poetry, theatrical productions, plays, craft and art/photographic exhibitions.

There is a minimum requirement to host four events, with a maximum grant of €10,000 available per application.

The scheme opened for applications under two separate strands this afternoon.

Strand A: Licensed premises - pubs, restaurants and wine bars, nightclubs and other suitable licensed premises that operate in the evening and night economy, who want to trial a series of events/cultural activities (minimum of four events) during off peak times from Monday to Thursday (excluding weekends) from 6pm onwards.

Strand B: Unlicensed premises - cafés, including cafés that may have their premises in a retail outlet, dry bars, local galleries and other suitable non-licensed premises, who want to trial a series of events/cultural activities (minimum of four events) in the later evening or night-time hours from 6pm, with a commitment to open until at least 9pm in the evening, from Monday to Sunday.

The entertainment/cultural events must be of a participative or performance nature.

The new scheme was developed in consultation with representatives from the night-time economy sector, including the Licensed Vintners Association, the Give Us The Night group, the Vintners' Federation of Ireland and the Restaurant Association of Ireland.