The world renowned Hanover Band is facing a financial crisis which could signal its collapse.

The Hove based orchestra, said to be one of the finest orchestras playing period instruments, will have to disband if it cannot raise £150,000 by mid January.

Even if the money is raised in time to satisfy its bankers, The Royal Bank of Scotland, the orchestra would need further funding to continue.

The Hanover Band is based at the Old Market Centre, in Upper Market Street, Hove, which was given £3.8 million of National Lottery funding for rebuilding, so it could become a permanent home for the band.

The Old Market Centre is itself in financial difficulties with staff being made redundant.

Chief executive of the Hanover Band Stephen Neiman, who resigned as chief executive of the Old Market to concentrate on running the orchestra, is in the process of applying for further lottery funding.

A bid to the Arts Council of England's stabilisation programme failed last year.

The founder and artistic director of the orchestra Caroline Brown, who is married to Mr Neiman said: " We have reached a situation where unless we can raise a significant proportion of the money within the next two weeks we shall be legally bound to place the Hanover Band Ltd into liquidation.

"The money that must be raised is owed primarily to the hard working musicians who have helped to make the Hanover Band the artistically superb orchestra that it is today.

"It has taken 22 years to build the orchestra which has given more than 1,500 concerts spanning three continents.

"It has made 160 recordings and it would be a tragedy if it were to disband. The country would lose one of its most distinguished period instrument orchestras."

Many of the musicians who play in the orchestra live in Sussex and play in other orchestras.

Two vital fund-raising concerts are being planned for next week.

The first on Sunday, January 6 at St George's Church, Kemp Town, at 7.45pm and the second at London's Wigmore Hall at 7.30pm. They have been underwritten by a benefactor.

Sir Charles Mackerras, patron of the Friends of the Hanover Band, said: "This was one of the first period orchestras in Britain and remains one of the finest. It would be a disaster if it were not to get the support to continue."

David McNeill, head of press and public relations at the Arts Council of England, said: "We are aware of the problems facing the Old Market and the Hanover Band. The Old Market has been given quite considerable funding, mostly one off payments of National Lottery funding.

"The idea was to provide a permanent home and recording facilities for the Hanover Band, plus an arts venue for Hove.

"Both the Hanover Band and the Old Market Centre have since asked us for sustainability funding and we have indicated that applications would not be successful "There is a huge demand for our funding. We are not a bottomless pit and there is only so much we can do.

"We are, however, talking about how other sums can be released to the Old Market."