Appalshop is a U.S. nonprofit cultural arts organization based in the mountainous central Appalachian coalfields of eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia.
Appalshop was founded in late 1969 by Bill Richardson, an architect, and a group of aspiring young artists who secured funding from the Kennedy administration’s War on Poverty program to engage their neighbours in raising awareness of Appalachia’s cultural and community strengths and to grapple with the region’s poverty.
The resulting documentary films (Appalshop Films), plays (Roadside Theater), print publications (Mountain Review), and audio recordings (June Appal Recordings) engendered a new sense of hope among a people with a long history of combating the effects of an economy that made absentee owners rich and left the region’s people relatively under-resourced and stigmatized.
Over the years, Appalshop has produced more than 200 films and videos, 70 original plays, and 107 music and spoken-word recordings/Cd’s. It is also home to the area’s only public radio station, Appalshop’s WMMT-FM, which serves as a 24-hour medium for people in the region to talk among themselves and to the rest of the world via live Internet streaming. The organization continues its founding tradition, training young people to become community leaders and citizen-artists.
Appalshop’s award-winning productions have had extensive national and international distribution via broadcasts, cablecasts, and web casts; by touring and exhibition; and by direct sales to institutions, organizations, and individuals. In addition to its own productions, Appalshop artists and producers have assisted several thousand communities in all states and a many foreign countries investigating and portraying their local life and traditions through performing and media arts.