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Northern Ireland arts sector in crisis: Just how will the show go on?

Venues like the Lyric and Grand Opera House in Belfast earn most of their money from the box office but the pandemic has shut that down and new social distancing measures would drastically reduce audience numbers. Ivan Little reports on a sector in crisis

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Madagascar the Musical at the Grand Opera House

Madagascar the Musical at the Grand Opera House

Love, Billy at the Lyric Theatre

Love, Billy at the Lyric Theatre

Under the Hawthorn Tree at the MAC

Under the Hawthorn Tree at the MAC

Alice: The Musical at the Lyric

Alice: The Musical at the Lyric

Sleeping Beauty at the Lyric Theatre

Sleeping Beauty at the Lyric Theatre

Actress Emi Wokoma as Tina at the Opera House

Actress Emi Wokoma as Tina at the Opera House

Dirty Dancing in Le Shebeen at the MAC, Belfast

Dirty Dancing in Le Shebeen at the MAC, Belfast

Concerns: Jimmy Fay from the Lyric

Concerns: Jimmy Fay from the Lyric

Madagascar the Musical at the Grand Opera House

Theatre administrators across Northern Ireland are to join together in a video conferencing call on Friday afternoon after a top arts official warned the province is in danger of becoming a cultural wasteland in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

The Zoom meeting will discuss the call from Jimmy Fay, the executive producer at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, for the setting up of what he called a "cultural taskforce" to launch a concerted drive to save the arts sector in the province.

He said: "I think we must form a proactive cross-body taskforce with cultural leaders, politicians, business leaders and arts commentators.