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Client spotlight: ArtsPay

Native Title & Public Interest Law
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Who says businesses can’t make a profit and do good at the same time? When the arts sector was taking a major hit during the covid-related lockdowns, a newly launched start-up made it its mission to help rebuild the sector and become a permanent, sustainable source of funding. Founded by three friends, ArtsPay is the only for-purpose payment processing company in the world, channelling its fees to support a cause. We asked one of the co-founders, Alistair Webster, to tell us more.

When and how did you come up with the idea for ArtsPay? 

During lockdowns at the start of the pandemic, Lara, Marc and I became increasingly concerned about the impact it was all going to have on the arts, and we decided to do something about it. 

Marc's background in ticketing and payments, Lara's in the arts and mine in the law, public policy and the philanthropic sector gave us a good mix of skills to bring to the project to life, and over many long discussions we came up with the idea for a payment processing company that uses fees to support the arts. 

We then began negotiating a partnership with the one of the world's largest payment companies, Fiserv, who loved our idea and agreed to support ArtsPay. 

How do you compete with other payment processing businesses? Are particular kinds of customers switching to ArtsPay, or perhaps choosing to use a payment processing service for the first time specifically because they want to support the arts sector?

Businesses love ArtsPay because we have great rates, which makes it a win-win for the arts and your business. We also have a very reliable and scalable solution that has great features for merchants big and small. 

Right now, ArtsPay is the only for-purpose payment processing company in the world. No other payment company exists to do good and so businesses have a choice between ArtsPay, or the big banks. As more and more businesses - and their customers - are looking for ethical alternatives, we can give them one.

Any company - small, medium or large - that accepts payments online or instore can use ArtsPay. Whilst many of our customers are arts aligned (book stores, music stores, fashion, hospitality) and have a deep interest in the arts, many businesses would simply prefer their fees to go to a good cause. 

Creating an enterprise that makes a profit at the same time as supporting a cause must be very rewarding. Do you think more businesses could and should adopt that kind of win/win model?

We do. Not only because it will support more good causes, but because it will be good for business. As more and more consumers seek out ethical alternatives, businesses needs to demonstrate not only that they are not doing harm, but that they are doing good, and doing it well. We think there's a real trend towards business for good. 

 

Over time we hope to become a major new source of funding for small arts organisations and independent artists all around Australia that is driven by businesses, and complements the current funding from the philanthropic and government sectors.

How would you describe the partnership with Arnold Bloch Leibler?

I've worked with Arnold Bloch Leibler in the past and the firm is always brilliant. Not only are they excellent lawyers but they immediately understood what we were trying to do and its potential, and have advised us brilliantly along the way. We look forward to working with ABL as we grow.

What are your future plans for ArtsPay and the ArtsPay Foundation?

Every day, ArtsPay is bringing on new clients so we can build a sustainable new source of funding for the arts. At the same time, we are developing the governance and grant-making structures for the ArtsPay Foundation, which will launch by the end of 2022. 

From there, we will be in a position to start grantmaking - modestly initially - but over time we hope to become a major new source of funding for small arts organisations and independent artists all around Australia that is driven by businesses, and complements the current funding from the philanthropic and government sectors. 

How can people support or get involved?

With ArtsPay, any business that accepts payments either online or instore can now become a supporter of the arts - at no cost to the business or their customers. If you own a business, or know someone who does, we would love to discuss working together. Please get in touch hello@artspay.com

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