We've been making art and media in the mountains since 1969. Now we're powered by the largest net-metered renewable energy system in Eastern Kentucky, and home to the largest single body of creative work on Appalachia in the world.
Young artists in Appalachia have been told for decades that if they’re serious about their craft, they have to leave the region. Our films about Appalachian musicians like Ralph Stanley and Hazel Dickens, writers like James Still and Harriette Arnow, and fine artists like Jerry Brown and Sarah Bailey put the lie to that narrative — as do the Appalshop filmmakers who told their stories in our catalogue of more than 100 films.
Appalshop’s radio station WMMT 88.7 FM broadcasts traditional Appalachian music over the airwaves, and we support it live and in person, too. With an annual music festival, Seedtime on the Cumberland, and an after-school Appalachian music program, Passing the Pick and Bow, we’re passionate about preserving old-time music even as we continue to expand the definition of “mountain music.”
Our belief that people should get to tell their own stories drives all of the art and media we produce at Appalshop. Through Roadside Theater, Appalshop developed a name for that practice, partnering with Zuni people in New Mexico, Puerto Ricans in the Bronx, residents of West Baltimore and the Great Plains, Liberian refugees, central American immigrants — all to create “art in a democracy.”
Our state-of-the-art, climate-controlled vault holds thousands of hours of film, videotape, audio recordings, photographs, and print materials spanning almost a century of life and history in Appalachia. Among our collections are Appalshop’s own films and all of the albums released on our record label, June Appal Recordings, all preserved by Appalshop’s professional archivists.
With almost 100 albums released on our record label, we’re still representing working musicians who are actively putting out work today. The latest artists to release an album on Appalshop’s June Appal Recordings are The Local Honeys, whose album “The Gospel” propelled them on an international tour that took “mountain music” far beyond the confines of Appalachia.
Appalshop has made space for young people to develop their passions through formal and informal programming since we got our start in 1969. Today our Boone Youth Drop-In and Safe Space building hosts arts and crafts nights, 3D printing residencies, our annual filmmaking institute, and even punk shows.
We’re generating almost all of our own energy usage and demonstrating what’s possible in the coalfields with a freestanding “solar pavilion” on Appalshop’s grounds, and more solar panels on the roof of our Boone building across the street. We’re proud to be home to the largest net-metered renewable energy system in Eastern Kentucky, and we’re working with our partners in the Letcher County Culture Hub to help them build their own solar projects here in the region.
Solar panels on our main building’s roof would be too high for people to see, so we designed a free-standing pavilion with clear panels that illuminate the stage below with natural light and enable us to really see the technology. Our new solar pavilion is now the permanent home of our annual Seedtime on the Cumberland festival, and constitutes a brand new, permanent venue for live performances in downtown Whitesburg.