Coronavirus-safe spaces to be created for cultural events and dining

Local authorities to get up to €250,000 to develop outdoor arts facilities

The Government is encouraging local authorities to develop outdoor arts, cultural, and festival areas in preparation for the easing of Covid-19 restrictions this year.

Minister for Culture and Arts Catherine Martin is offering councils €250,000 each to develop public spaces to facilitate the needs of local arts and entertainment communities.

Projects should “respond to the challenges associated with Covid-19 and support the recovery of the creative, cultural, entertainment and events sector as well as being future-proofed from a health and safety perspective,” the Department of Arts said.

Local authorities should aim for “speedy results or actions with added benefits for tourism, and the hospitality sector” it said. The projects should also demonstrate how they will support the “night-time economy”


Authorities can apply immediately for the fund, which will cover up to 90 per cent of the cost of a project, but the scheme will last as long as the virus does, the department said.

The fund arises from a recommendation of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce Ms Martin said.

“More than ever we now appreciate the value of communal spaces, particularly for our artists, the culture among our communities and for people to gather in a safe environment,” she said.

“Crucially, the fund and scheme will help create new spaces up and down the country, in villages, towns and cities, to be transformed into wonderful resources for festivals, entertainment and cultural events.”

Dining infrastructure

Meanwhile, a grant scheme for outdoor dining infrastructure is being worked on by Fáilte Ireland in conjunction with local authorities at eight urban locations across the country.

The scheme, which will be focused on outdoor dining and urban animation in Dublin, Kilkenny, Killarney, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Cork and Athlone was put forward at an online meeting with hospitality and tourism representatives on Thursday morning.

“We are working on a new scheme for outdoor dining, outdoor infrastructure and the whole area of urban animation. There will be limited resources and it will be with the local authorities,” a spokeswoman for Fáilte Ireland said.

“It’s about ensuring the infrastructure is in place to support outdoor dining, weatherproofing and that sort of thing in line with the local by-laws.”

Fáilte Ireland said the scheme is based on urban areas which have been “badly hit” by Covid-19 restrictions and that is currently “at the planning stage”.

Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), said Failte Ireland need to “engage with the trade representative bodies properly and in a constructive manner” in relation to the scheme.

“We were of the understanding that this was going to be grant aid for businesses to help them if and when hospitality does reopen to provide capital expenditure to help a business,” he said.

“It now transpires they’re looking at eight locations in Ireland, those locations are below the Dublin-Galway rail line and they are working with the local authorities to provide extra space in those areas.

“I feel that we’ve been sold a pup because our understanding was that this was going to be money towards businesses to get themselves organised for shelters or weatherproofed furniture for outside their business but it transpires that it’s not.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times