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 is home to the largest single body of creative work about Appalachia in the world. Our catalogue of more than 100 films is the product of 50 years and a wide range of filmmakers, yet shares a unique “point-of-view” style that one critic summarized as “an unsentimental exercise in authenticity.”
Each week our radio station WMMT 88.7 FM airs eight hours of original public affairs programming. In fact, 98 percent of everything we broadcast is locally produced, making us a true community radio station in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields.
While much of the art and media that we produce at Appalshop is recorded, since 1975 our Roadside Theater has brought live performance to 45 states and abroad. We work with a national audience overwhelmingly located in rural communities to develop productions of everything from oral history to jazz, creating culturally-specific programming that tells regional stories in the voices of the people living there.
In the course of making films, putting out records, and producing radio, Appalshop media makers recorded Appalachians who were legends in their fields, as well as everyday people at critical moments in history. Our professional archive grew out of the need to preserve our own work, as well as out of the same mission that drove us to produce it in the first place: the desire to record and amplify life in Appalachia.
Our record label’s catalogue represents the breadth of Appalachian music, from old-time traditional to bluegrass and Americana. We’ve released almost 100 records since we launched Appalshop’s June Appal Recordings in 1974, evolving from LP to digital right alongside the evolution of “mountain music” itself.
With over 80 percent of the young people in our Appalachian Media Institute hailing from Eastern Kentucky, Appalshop has a long history of cultivating the talents and passions of young people. Our film catalogue includes documentaries they’ve made over a period of three decades, creating a kind of ongoing snapshot of the region as young Appalachians see it.
Using our famous “story circle” method, we’ve spent multiple immersive weekends in dialogue with voters in rural Western Massachusetts since the 2016 election seeking to eliminate the media screen that divides us as red versus blue. “Hands Across the Hills” is just one of the programs at Appalshop by which we empower community members and develop meaningful tools of cultural exchange.
It’s especially poignant for us to unveil our solar pavilion 50 years after our founding in 1969, when young people chose not to wait to see what was possible, but to build it themselves. We see solar as a powerful economic engine in Eastern Kentucky, and since it’s almost impossible to be what you can’t see, we decided to demonstrate the benefits of a renewable energy system by building our own.