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.
Appalshop’s films amplify life in the mountains from the perspectives of those living it — coal miners, activists, fast food workers, truckers, prisoners, musicians, and young people alike. They capture half a century of enormous change here in Appalachia, putting a spotlight on the diverse voices that have always made up our community in a catalogue of more than 100 films.
The programming on Appalshop’s radio station WMMT 88.7 FM is as eclectic as the tastes of the 50-odd volunteer DJs who run it. With a listening radius that extends into five Appalachian states, the vast majority of the music and public affairs reporting that we broadcast comes directly from the communities that tune in to hear it.
Appalshop's Roadside Theater is a people's theater oriented toward building movements. Through decades of cross-cultural partnerships in rural and urban communities alike, Roadside has created innovative methodologies like the story circle and the Performing Our Future coalition, which create the conditions for communities to organize themselves, share their stories, and create a future where they own what they make.
Appalshop’s professional archivists have collected and preserved an untold number of family heritage items from local residents in Eastern Kentucky — everything from photos to glass plate negatives to heirloom fiddles — and coordinated workshops empowering laypeople to preserve their own materials, too. We know how community-based storytelling and archiving can support a spirit of self-worth that contributes to a sense of place, and Appalshop’s archive has actively cultivated opportunities to amplify the voices of people right here in our community.
Founded in 1974, our record label June Appal Recordings has distributed mountain music over a period of time in which the very definition of what it means to be “mountain music” has grown and evolved. We still represent local artists and have even put out compilations of local institutions like Cowan Creek Mountain Music School.
We work with young people in ten different counties to ensure that they have access to the full range of contraceptive methods through a program called All Access EKY. Combining storytelling, media making, and community outreach, All Access EKY is just one way Appalshop advocates for and works alongside young people in the region.
Appalshop’s community organizers initiated the Letcher County Culture Hub in 2017 to bring together more than 20 local partners — community centers, businesses, educators, artists, volunteer fire departments, and nonprofits — to build a culture and an economy where we own what we make. The Culture Hub is itself a founding delegation of the national Performing Our Future coalition, initiated by Appalshop's Roadside Theater.
In the last decade alone energy costs have gone up by almost 50 percent, and they’re expected to keep rising. That’s unsustainable for us and for our neighbors, who we’re helping to install their own solar projects so we can all stabilize and reduce our energy costs in the coalfields, where we believe alternative energy sources are critical to our future.