Appalshop is dedicated to the proposition that the world is immeasurably enriched when local cultures garner the resources, including new technologies, to tell their own stories and to listen to the unique stories of others. The creative acts of listening and telling are Appalshop's core competency.
Appalshop began in 1969 as an economic development project of the War on Poverty. The idea was to recruit a group of Appalachian youth and train them in media skills. The expectation was that the young people would use their new skills to find employment outside Appalachia. Instead, the trainees saw their media knowledge as a way to stay in the region. In looking at Appalachia through the eyes of the existing media, they saw little or nothing that reflected the reality they knew; so they began making films to document their own communities. Over the ensuing thirty-six years Appalshop has grown into a nationally recognized media center working in film, video, recordings, literature, theater, presentation of live performance, and radio. The subject matter of this work ranges from documenting traditional arts to exploring history to dealing with the social issues that affect the region today. The underlying philosophy has always been that Appalachian people must tell their own stories and solve their own problems.