Arts venues including theatres, galleries and cinemas may have to operate at uneconomic levels for months because of Covid-19, with some facing capacity reductions of almost 90pc just to reopen.
Triskel Arts Centre director Tony Sheehan said while Irish venues are determined to re-open from August, they will have to change their entire operating ethos until the pandemic is over or a coronavirus vaccine becomes widely available.
Mr Sheehan said if strict two-metre social distancing measures are to be adhered to, a 300-seat venue such as Triskel in Cork could face having to slash its capacity to just 30 seats, a reduction of 90pc.
Other leading Irish venues such as the Abbey, Gaiety, Vicar Street, 3Arena, Cork Opera House and Everyman Palace face similar challenges over how to balance social distancing demands with capacity needs.
"Theatres were essentially designed to stop social distancing - they are all about bringing people together, creating gatherings to celebrate art and culture and all that is rich in our society," said Mr Sheehan.
"So we now have to re-think everything that we do. We have to basically redesign how we operate, at least in the short to medium term."
The easing of the lockdown restrictions poses an unprecedented challenge for Irish cinemas, theatres, galleries and performance clubs both in terms of new, safe operating procedures and how to cope with the resulting financial fall-out from slashed venue capacity.
"It is simply not viable to operate like this - everyone knows that," he said.
"But we are going to reopen. We are up for this challenge because I think Ireland needs us now more than ever.
"We are determined to reopen from August 10 because I think there is a hunger and a need in Irish society for what we offer."
He said people need the encouragement that the arts can give them. "We are going to beat this virus and the arts will be a major part of that fightback," he said.
"The public are crying out for the inspiration and morale-boost that theatre, cinema, music and performance art offers - the hope of a better tomorrow and a brighter future."
But the economic realities facing major Irish theatres and venues are stark.
Mr Sheehan warned it is impossible to overstate the scale of the financial challenges now facing the Irish art world.
He said it will be uneconomic in the medium to long term for Triskel to operate a 300-seat theatre at a reduced capacity of only 30.
"Our heating bill alone is €35,000 - how do you cover your costs if you are selling just 30 seats?"
He said venues will have to examine reduced capacity operations, ways of cost-cutting, greater frequency of shows and even online and outdoor performance options.
"It is a particularly challenging task for us because here at Triskel we operate a cinema, a concert hall, a gallery, a theatre development company run by Corcadorca and we also host the Cork Traveller Women's Network."
The jewel in Triskel's crown is the 18th-century Christchurch, a beautiful Georgian church in Cork de-consecrated in 1979, which now operates as a state-of-the-art cultural venue and auditorium.
"We are a very busy, complex organisation," said Mr Sheehan.
"It may well be a situation of doing a lot more shows with a lot less people.
"But we need to get back open so we can resume what we do best which is showcase all that is good about culture and society."
Despite the pandemic-enforced shutdown for almost two months, he said Triskel has been busier than ever over recent weeks.
"There has been a huge demand for what we offer. I would actually describe it as a hunger from the public," he said. "For instance, we have had an incredible response to the online performances."
One such online performance was by classical musician Keith Pascoe of the acclaimed Vanbrugh group.
"The online concerts have been incredibly well attended - I think it shows just how much Irish people want and need the arts," said Mr Sheehan.