Appalshop Receives 2015 ArtPlace America Grant for “Mining the Meaning” Project in Letcher County


Appalshop announced today that it is among 38 recipients of ArtPlace America’s 2015 National Grants Program.  ArtPlace, one of the nation’s largest philanthropies dedicated to creative placemaking, is investing $450,000 in Letcher County, Kentucky to further integrate arts and culture into the field of community planning and development. Appalshop will increase arts, media & technology training opportunities for young people in the mountains, strengthen long-standing cultural institutions in the county, and contribute to diversifying Letcher County’s economy by helping develop tourism opportunities celebrating place-based traditions, and creating the conditions that can support entrepreneurs building creative businesses right here at home. ArtPlace selected Appalshop from a pool of nearly 1,300 applicants.

Alex Gibson, Appalshop’s Director, stated: “This news comes at an important time, as Letcher County is experiencing the devastating economic and social effects of a declining coal industry. During this moment of transition, Appalshop is uniquely positioned to catalyze local assets to further build Letcher County as a hub of Appalachian arts and culture, to enhance creative ventures and new cross-sector partnerships such as local food initiatives for community well-being as well as offer hope for a rural area that has often felt forgotten.”

Lori Meadows, Kentucky Arts Council Executive Director, said, “Appalshop is at the forefront of building vibrant communities in the economically distressed areas of eastern Kentucky.  As a unique rural organization, Appalshop and its individual artists have achieved a high level of excellence and creativity in their work.  The project that Appalshop has initiated is a wonderful model for other communities and I look forward to following this exciting work that reaffirms, renews, and revitalizes place.”

“Investing in and supporting the arts have a profound impact on the social, physical, and economic futures of communities,” said ArtPlace Executive Director Jamie L. Bennett. “Projects like these demonstrate how imaginative and committed people are when it comes to enhancing their communities with creative interventions and thoughtful practices.”

“The National Grants Program is actively building a portfolio that touches each of the sectors and stakeholders that make up the community development field,” said ArtPlace’s Director of National Grantmaking F. Javier Torres.  “Last year, ArtPlace developed a Community Development Matrix to help us better evaluate our success on this front.  So, we’re thrilled that this year’s 38 grantees represent a dynamic spectrum of creative approaches and partnerships in community development that expand the dimensions of our portfolio.”

This year’s ArtPlace America grantees were selected from nearly 1,300 applicants across 48 states and the District of Columbia.  “Each one of these grants supports a geographic community: a collection of people who live, work, and play within a defined circle on a map,” continued Torres.  “In each case, a community development challenge or opportunity was identified by local stakeholders; and these 38 grantees are serving as conduits for their community’s desires by leading arts-based solutions through their projects.”

In addition to Appalshop’s project Mining the Meaning, another Kentucky organization’s project, Roots & Wings in West Louisville, was also chosen this year to receive a $280,000 grant from ArtPlace America.

In a joint statement, representatives of Appalshop and Roots & Wings and noted that, “It is significant that two grass-roots, artist-led efforts in historically disinvested Kentucky communities (Appalachia and West Louisville) are collectively bringing $730,000 in new, national investment into our state’s creative economy this year. For two Kentucky projects to be chosen among ArtPlace America’s 38 grantees for 2015 is an indication of the growing influence of the voice of Kentucky-based artists within the national creative placemaking conversation. We look forward to supporting each other in these transformational projects over the next 18-months.”

To view the complete list of 2015 ArtPlace grantees, go to

About Appalshop
Appalshop is a non-profit multi-disciplinary arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia producing original films, video, theater, music and spoken-word recordings, radio, photography, multimedia, and books. Appalshop is dedicated to the proposition that the world is immeasurably enriched when local cultures garner the resources, including new technologies, to tell their own stories and to listen to the unique stories of others.  Visit for more information about the project.

About ArtPlace America

ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) is a ten-year collaboration of foundations, banks, and federal agencies that exists to position art and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of communities. Visit for more information.