THE country's second largest rural authority, Ryedale in North Yorkshire, will discuss investing £56,000 in helping scores of craft workers and performing arts groups to help boost its economy and create jobs.

The proposals have been given a further boost with the announcement that Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, will be the keynote speaker at a conference at Helmsley Arts Centre.

If Ryedale District Council, which has a tourist economy estimated at about £100m a year, approves the investment, the grant could fund six creative economy commissions which have been set up.

Julian Rudd, head of economy and infrastructure at the Malton-based council, said that six projects are being developed. "They will provide a greater link between the creative and tourist economy to improve the economic benefit of the arts and heritage in Ryedale," he said.

The support will benefit individual craft businesses and enterprises, as well as social enterprises.

Now the council's Commissioning Board is being asked at its meeting on Thursday, March 20, to approve £15,000 for the Northern Creative Hub, a cultural group for the northern part of the district, which provides support and advice to arts organisations, as well as offering skills development opportunities for young people, while £10,000 each is being suggested as a contribution to festivals providing a marketing partnership and audience development strategies, said Mr Rudd, and to Ryedale Artworks to support arts businesses.

A further grant of £7,500 is being suggested to promote Ryedale's extensive heritage through the district council with the aim of developing a regional and national profile for the area's key museums - Ryedale Folk Museum, Malton Museum, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and Pickering's Beck Isle Museum. Some £9,300 is being suggested to help Rural Arts North Yorkshire help local businesses and the Ryedale economy generally. The committee will also be asked to approve £3,400 for pilot and small-scale commissions to "seed-fund" projects in the creative economy.

"The aim is to maximise local economic benefit from the performing arts. There is also to be an on-going programme of business development and support to individuals, micro enterprises and businesses in the creative sector," said Mr Rudd. "The whole project aims to link with Ryedale's visitor economy."

Janet Deacon, area director for Welcome to Yorkshire, the region's marketing organisation, said: "These initiatives and projects are a splendid way not only to attract people to Ryedale but also encourage them to spend money and supporting many individual craft businesses and the wealth of artistic talent organisations in the district. We are delighted that the council has backed so many creative initiatives which will have a considerable potential benefit to the district."