New start-up providing support for the arts


With the arts sector taking a major hit during the pandemic, a newly-launched start-up has made it its mission to help the sector. According to the ABS, the COVID pandemic has hit Australia’s arts and recreation sectors harder than any other, with estimates suggesting more than $500 million in lost revenue.

ArtsPay is a payment processing company that uses the fees from every transaction at a partner organisation to support the arts. By shopping online or at bricks-and-mortar shops, customers are able to support the arts with every purchase processed through the platform at no additional cost to the business or their customers. And businesses can also join ArtsPay, with the fees they currently pay to the banks or financial institutions instead going to support Australia’s arts sector.

At least 50 per cent of the profits generated from ArtsPay fees will be distributed back to the arts ecosystem through a new funding body, the ArtsPay Foundation, which will launch next year.

ArtsPay has partnered with global payments giant Fiserv and local payment gateway Fat Zebra in offering payment solutions online and in-store while giving a unique opportunity for businesses to achieve a social good.

Already, many well-known Australian brands and local stores have joined ArtsPay, including fashion labels Alpha60 and Bul, jewellery stores Lucy Folk and Pieces of Eight, Sydney Contemporary art fair and local Melbourne wine store Rathdowne Cellars.

ArtsPay has also received an industry collaboration grant through the Australia Council to consult with the arts community on the Foundation’s grantmaking structures and to grow the business so it can have a long term impact.

ArtsPay was founded by three friends, Marc Goldenfein, Lara Thoms and Alistair Webster, who were looking to find new and innovative ways of tackling the funding shortages that have plagued the arts sector for decades.

“Over time, our mission is to become a permanent, sustainable source of funding for the arts,” the enterprise’s co-founder and CEO Marc Goldenfein said. “With support from the business community we can make a huge difference to a sector in crisis, and help it rebuild after the pandemic.”

“As a practicing artist and director of a small arts organisation, I know the difficulties Australia’s arts sector has in attracting government and philanthropic funding. I want that to change,” co-founder Lara Thoms added.

“For the first time, businesses can choose a payment processor that uses the fees for a good cause, rather than paying those fees to the big banks,” co-founder Alistair Webster said. “Together, the business community can support the arts sector through the recovery and beyond.”

The Australia Council lauded the launch of ArtsPay, with Executive Director Development and Strategic Partnerships Georgie McClean commenting, “The cultural and creative industries have been struck hard by COVID and we know that without innovative new forms of funding, it will be a long road back for many artists and small arts organisations. The investment in the Sector Recovery Initiatives supports the sector to re-imagine practice and operations, and test ideas and models for a more resilient, equitable and thriving future.”