BY STEPHANIE TILLER
The Sydney art community is divided over an interest free loan scheme that was implemented by City of Sydney Council in March this year.
The Art Money scheme, administered by the 10 Group, is part of the City of Sydney’s Creative City Policy and aims to support artists and galleries by stimulating the art market.
City of Sydney Labor Councillor Linda Scott said that although the City should support art, the scheme fails, as it supports investors of art rather than creators of it.
She told City Hub that “the City would be better off directly supporting local, emerging artists than subsidising interest free-loans for investors”.
The program provides interest free loans between $750-$20,000, and Art Money retain a 10 per cent deposit as a service fee.
The remaining balance is then paid off in nine equal installments over nine months.
Marketing Manager of Art Money Georgia Scholl said that alongside buyers being able to take artwork home immediately, “galleries are paid within 10 days of the sale, which is a hugely important cash flow benefit for artists and galleries”.
However, the NSW Chair of Commercial Galleries Stella Downer opposes the scheme, due to the fact that Art Money deducts 10 per cent of each artwork sold.
“I think it’s a money making exercise for the CEO Paul Becker. All of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association galleries are commercial of course and I don’t begrudge anyone who makes a buck out of enterprise but I don’t agree with taking 10 per cent from artists and galleries.”
Artist and manager of Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst Lesley Dimmick told City Hub another concern of the program was that it primarily targeted well-established artists and galleries.
“Bottom of the rung artists that are painting like mad and trying to sell their art aren’t benefitting yet,” she said.
“Obviously investors have money and they can invest in high profile art but it’s wrong, the whole thing is just working to help the top end of the market.”
Director of The Commercial gallery in Redfern Amanda Rowell is one of 44 Sydney galleries that have signed up to the program since its implementation this year.
Ms Rowell said herself and the artists she represents have found the Art Money scheme to be very valuable.
“It’s a great initiative, anything that helps sell more contemporary art for the artists and the galleries, because the art industry is tough,” she said.
“Interestingly we’ve had about four or five sales through it, all to young people generally involved in the art world, but they’re sales that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” she said.
City of Sydney Independent Councillor Jenny Green said that during consultation for the City’s cultural plans, “ interest-free loans for artwork purchases was recognised by the sector and the community as a valuable opportunity to build new markets.”
“The City will have a fuller picture of Art Money as of the 1st of August when we receive the first quarter data and evaluation results from Art Money.”