Ever gazed longingly at an artwork in Olsen Irwin, Arthouse or Sullivan+Strumpf but baulked at the price tag? The dream of owning works by some of Australia’s finest contemporary artists is now within reach, thanks to the launch of a savvy new business: Art Money.
The concept is as simple as the title suggests – an interest-free loan scheme created specifically for people who want to buy art. “Art often has a very high upfront cost with no finance available, so I decided to bring the art world and the commercial world together to create a viable scheme,” says Paul Becker. He’s the chief executive and founder of art publisher and for-profit organisation 10 Group, which is behind Art Money. “We all think having culture and creativity in our lives is a good thing, and with Art Money, all parties [artists, galleries and collectors] get something out of it.”
Based on existing schemes in Tasmania (Collect) and the UK (Own Art), Art Money provides interest-free loans (from $750 to $20,000) for artworks at 26 participating Sydney galleries.
The buyer pays an upfront fee of 10 per cent which entitles them to take the artwork home, then repay the remainder of the loan over the next nine months, without interest.
The initiative is supported by the City of Sydney, which has provided one-off seed funding. “The City of Sydney is excited to see this initiative begin, creating the opportunity for more people to have art in their homes and growing Sydney’s creative sector,” says Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
Applications can be made online and to access a loan you must be over 18 and an Australian resident with a clear credit history. “The galleries have been overwhelmingly supportive because they can see this is needed, that’s it’s going to help their artists and buyers,” says Becker, pointing out that the gallery, and therefore the artist, is paid upfront, with the loan and risk held by Art Money.
Becker says the scheme is not without its challenges, which include uncertainty around the potential of the art-buying market and the danger that people will default on their loans. But it’s a risk he’s willing to take, and a concept he hopes will only grow in the future.