Shunpike: The Business of Art

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Shunpike was founded in 2001 to support a vibrant and diverse local arts community where arts groups of all sizes could thrive. We realized that efficient use of resources and smart management could help arts groups do what they do best – now and in the long term.

Initially, Shunpike and its founding members produced their own arts projects – in theatre, music, literary arts, visual arts, and arts education. By 2003, it was clear the organization had built a strong administrative structure to support these projects. Identifying a need in Seattle’s emerging arts community for a backbone of administrative support, Shunpike formalized its programs to serve additional arts groups.

Shunpike now serves more than 300 arts groups throughout Washington – representing more than 5,000 artists and more than 100,000 public participants annually.

What is a “Shunpike”?

The word “shunpike” has its origins in post-colonial New Hampshire:

“When the ‘Turnpike’ was built around 1810 or so, by the Hampton Causeway Turnpike Corporation, in Hampton Falls, NH, a toll was charged to cross it at Taylor’s River.

Not content with the payment of a toll, some of the residents got together and built a slight bridge called the ‘Shunpike’ across the Taylor’s River, some distance west of the Turnpike bridge, where travelers and teamsters could cross without charge. This continued on until April 12, 1826, when the toll on the Turnpike was discontinued and has remained a free road to this day.”

- John Holman, the Hampton, NH Library

Our Shunpike is designed with the same spirit in mind: helping artists band together to create their own path to success.