Arts Council England has launched £160m emergency response package for cultural sector, in the light of the coronavirus crisis.

It is designed to support “individual artists, freelancers and cultural organisations”.

A spokesman said: “The financial crisis is acute for the cultural sector. Evidence shows that closures and cancelled contracts are causing massive and unsustainable loss of revenues.

“The measures we have announced are intended to support individuals and organisations and help them develop creative responses to the Covid-19 crisis, to buoy the public during the period of lockdown. The Arts Council’s sole priority at this time is to use its financial resources to support artists and creative practitioners, museums, libraries, and arts organisations, so that they can continue to serve our communities during this crisis, and reboot creatively after it is over. “

The emergency response package contains 160m of emergency funding of which £20m will be for creative practitioners and freelancers, £50m for organisations outside our National Portfolio, and £90m to support National Portfolio Organisations.

Artists and a wide range of creative practitioners will be eligible for cash grants up to £2.5k. From the £20m fund, the Arts Council is also planning to make grants up to £4m to existing Benevolent Funds for cultural workers.

Organisations outside the National Portfolio will be able to apply for grants up to £35k from the £50m fund. This fund “is to support them to get back on their feet, or to continue making work in the future that will mean they can contribute to delivering our new strategy”

These new funds for both individuals and organisations will be up and running by March 30, with first payments made within six weeks.

But the Arts Council is therefore suspending its main project funding stream - National Lottery Project Grants.

The new package “is focused on dealing with the immediate crisis”.