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Appalshop is a media, arts, and education center located in Whitesburg, Kentucky, in the heart of the southern Appalachian region of the United States.


Appalshop was founded in 1969 as the Appalachian Film Workshop, a project of the United States government's War on Poverty. The organization was one of ten Community Film Workshops started by a partnership between the federal Office of Economic Opportunity and the American Film Institute. In 1974 they incorporated into a nonprofit company, under the name Appalshop, and established itself as a hub of filmmaking in Appalachia, and since that time has produced more than one hundred films, covering such subjects as coal mining, the environment, traditional culture, and the economy. The name was officially changed to reflect changing business structure and goals.

Appalshop also produces theater, music, bluegrass recordings (released on its June Appal Recordings label), as well as photography, multimedia, and books.

Since 1985, Appalshop has also operated WMMT-FM (Mountain Community Radio), a radio station located in Whitesburg, Kentucky which serves much of central Appalachia (including portions of eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia, and western West Virginia) with music and programming relevant to the region and its culture. WMMT also broadcasts live on the web.

During the 2022 floods in Eastern Kentucky, Appalshop and its archives were heavily damaged by water, sediment, and humidity. The center has since been working to recover its archives, with help from Iron Mountain. As of August 2023, the organization has managed to recover 13,500 items, including rare performances and interviews, an interview with leaders of the Eastern band of Cherokee, and materials relating to Black Appalachians. Some items, especially audiovisual resources, are being digitized into an expanded online library. However, employees estimate that about 15 to 20 percent of the archives have been lost forever. The amount of cultural . The damage to the building was extensive enough that a new building in Jenkins, which sits above the floodplain, had to be purchased. The organization plans to renovate the new building to meet their needs, while also respecting its history as a hospital and home. During the interim, the organization retrofitted an RV to serve as a mobile radio station.


Appalshop Building
The former Appalshop Main Building in Whitesburg, Kentucky

As stated on its website, Appalshop's goals are:

  • To document, disseminate, and revitalize the lasting traditions and contemporary creativity of Appalachia;
  • To tell stories the commercial cultural industries don't tell, challenging stereotypes with Appalachian voices and visions;
  • To support communities' efforts to achieve justice and equity and solve their own problems in their own ways;
  • To celebrate cultural diversity as a positive social value; and
  • To participate in regional, national, and global dialogue toward these ends.

Related grants and funding

Appalshop funding

Appalshop relies on multiple funding sources, including endowments, individual donors, and public and private grants. In 2017 Appalshop reported that its funding comprised 10% from endowment, 5% from individual donors, 32% from public grants, 45% from private grants and 8% from other sources.


National Endowment for Humanities

National Endowment for Humanities Grants have awarded multiple grants to Appalshop. These include $100,000 to improve the public programming initiatives and access to their collections. The National Endowment of the Humanities stated that the grant would be an ideal for this region because of thousands coal related layoffs in the region.

ArtPlace America Grant

In July 2015 Appalshop was awarded $450,000 by ArtPlace America, which provided funding for increasing arts and technology training. The money also helped to diversify Letcher County's economy.

Economic Development Administration and Appalachian Regional Commission Grants

These grants were awarded to the Southeast Kentucky High Tech Workforce Project that was started by Appalshop. The totaled amount of money awarded was $275,000. Economic Development Administration awarded $200,000 and Appalachian Regional Commission awarded $75,000. The grants will help develop a certificate program at Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College campuses in Letcher that will focuses on information technology and media production.


In 1990 Appalshop documentary producer Anne Lewis won the Alfred I. du Pont Award for Broadcast Journalism (Columbia University)

See also

  • June Appal Recordings
  • WMMT (FM)
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