The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has sounded a dire warning about the future of the arts here after predicting that losses in the province's creative industry caused by the coronavirus pandemic will top £23m by the end of the financial year.
And it has insisted that short term measures will not save the arts and entertainment infrastructure where scores of actors and technicians have seen their earnings virtually disappear as crisis-hit theatres have been shut down by the lockdown.
People working in movies and TV dramas have also been badly hit as the production of a number of high profile projects, such as the hit TV series Line of Duty, were halted.
The ACNI says with the aid of expert research and evidence it has now built up a clear picture of the impact of Covid-19 on the arts. It says that actual losses to the sector here stand at £11.6m for the last six months alone but it warns that the figure is likely to reach double that by the end of the year
A statement says: "To compound matters further, many arts organisations which rely heavily on income generated through box office, a model decimated by social distancing, are now facing a socially distanced Christmas season ahead, normally one of the most profitable times of year for the arts."
The hugely popular Grand Opera House pantomime, which had been due to star May McFettridge in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, has been postponed for a year after Covid-19 delayed work on a massive refurbishment programme.
Officials at the Millennium Forum in Derry/Londonderry have also postponed their panto, Sleeping Beauty, for 12 months.
The ACNI says it has been working closely with the Department for Communities to support arts organisation, individual artists and freelances "whose work in the creative sector has been decimated".
The council says it and the Department have put together a series of emergency funding initiatives.
But the ACNI warned: "Short term measures now will not save the arts and entertainment infrastructure nor many of those who work within it, from artists to lighting technicians, drivers to musicians. Their work has completely disappeared and the future is uncertain.
"It is crucial that the arts and creative sectors are supported and sustained with further investment now and over the coming years in order to plan and deliver arts programming - programming and activities that are so important to our night time economy, to cultural tourism and to the health and wellbeing of the many individuals most in need in our communities."
The ACNI says that assistance for the arts has included:
l Fifty per cent of the £12.9m in annual core grants being paid up front to support 97 key arts organisations in April 2020.
l Two hundred and twenty four funding awards being made to individual artists, totalling £547,320, in May/June 2020 through the Artists Emergency Programme (AEP).
l The opening of the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP) in July, worth £1.1m from the Department for Communities and from Future Screens NI, offering grants to individuals working in the creative sector.
l One hundred and fifty funding awards being made to arts organisations, totalling £1.9m, through the Organisations Emergency Programme (OEP), with a second round of the programme opening soon.
l The imminent opening of a capital funding programme to help arts organisations prepare for a safe reopening of venues and performance spaces.
The ACNI has already said it is continuing to press government for parity of esteem in public investment in the arts here, to close the gap on spending per head of the population in England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic.
Last week Game of Thrones and Derry Girls star Ian McElhinney called for more government and ACNI backing for struggling actors and technicians and said he hoped funds would be directed at professionals in the industry rather than being diverted to community projects.