Game of Thrones actor Ian McElhinney has "begged" the Executive and the Arts Council to do more to help Northern Ireland's struggling actors and technicians.
Ian, who also plays Granda Joe in the hit TV series Derry Girls, said he is deeply concerned about the plight of scores of actors and technicians who have seen their work dry up through the enforced closure of theatres during the coronavirus lockdown.
He added: "The trouble is that theatre is largely a freelance business and it's a very tough time for everyone involved.
"Nobody has been able to earn a living and the resources to help people out are limited.
"It would help if the Arts Council and the relevant department at Stormont would recognise the pressing needs of people whose jobs are in the theatre."
Emergency funding schemes have been set up but Ian said he fears the money was not going to go to the sources in most need.
He added: "At the moment the authorities are directing money that should be going to performing artists and technicians into 'community projects'.
"We have the problem here that the arts are locked in under community.
"I'm asking questions and I'm begging the right response. I'm saying 'please make sure that you look after the professionals in this industry and don't let monies that in my opinion should be going to them be diverted elsewhere'."
In response, the Department for Communities said it had responded to the outbreak of Covid by asking the Arts Council to ensure that 50% of the £12.9m in annual core grants was paid up front to support 97 key organisations. Some £1.5m in additional funds has been allocated and a further £4m earmarked to boost the recovery for musicians, freelancers, the arts and culture venues.
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland said they were continuing to make the case to their partners in government for parity of esteem in terms of public investment in the arts in the British Isles.
They said: "We want to close the current, wide gap on funding for the arts and ensure that the public spend per head of population equates fairly to those living in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland; essential to keeping our arts alive and valued."
Ian was speaking as he and his playwright and actress wife Marie Jones rehearsed for what will be the first performance in more than five months at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.
However, the production will not be staged in front of a live audience in line with Covid-19 restrictions.
Instead the play, Denouement, by Kilkenny-based writer John Morton, will feature in an online audio-recording.
The play, which is a co-production with the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, was due to be the curtain-raiser for a season of new work at the Lyric after a premiere at the Scottish city's festival fringe - but the plans were scuppered by the pandemic.
Marie said she was thrilled to be back on stage at the Lyric which has been shut for months with most staff there furloughed.
She added: "It was a great feeling, albeit an eerie one, to come through the doors of the theatre for rehearsals after it has been dark for so long."
Ironically the play has parallels with the coronavirus crisis as it is set during the apocalypse and follows a husband and wife who are facing it in very different ways.
Ian added: "In Denouement the couple hardly know one day from another. And that's been the same for all of us in lockdown. The couple in the play have no idea of exactly when their world will end."
Marie said she has not been writing during the lockdown.
She added: "People have been saying the crisis must have given me loads of ideas for plays. But, to be honest, if and when the pandemic is over I won't want to hear anything about it or see any lockdown plays."
But Marie has not been totally idle, adding: "I've been carrying out research for a number of projects but that has been hampered by the pandemic too."
The virus also led to the postponement of a production of Marie's play A Night in November in New York.
Ian said his busy career has effectively been put on hold by the pandemic. Some shows he recorded before the shutdown have still to air but one TV drama The Deceived by Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee and her husband Tobias Beer earned him plaudits.
Ian added: "I have no expectation of doing anything new before the end of the year. Derry Girls has now been pushed back into next year. It's all a nightmare to be honest."
l Denouement will be available for free online from Monday September 7 on www.lyrictheatre.co.uk and www.traverse.co.uk for two weeks.