Appalshop Invites You to Attend Two Arts-Based Civic Dialogue Events in Kentucky

Appalshop is holding two exciting events in Kentucky this fall. First, The Robert F. Kennedy Performance Project, which will take place Sept 8-11, explores the effects of the ?“war on poverty?” in one of the country?’s most distinctive yet marginalized regions. Second, an Art & Democracy National Gathering of artists and activists will take place September 11 and 12....

Appalshop invites you to participate in

The Robert F. Kennedy Performance Project
Sept 8 ?– 11, 2004
This real time, real place reenactment, under the direction of John Malpede, explores the effects of the ?“war on poverty?” in one of the country?’s most distinctive yet marginalized regions. RFK in EKY presents an historic moment, then holds a mirror to it and asks you to join the discussion, exploring what?’s true, and what?’s happened in our relationships to government, community, and each other since Kennedy came.

The American Festival Project
A National Gathering of Artists & Activists
Sat ?– Sun, Sept 11 ?– 12, 2004
At this critical point in history, we invite all who care about community to consider how the actions we take locally move us closer to democracy. Join in sessions on Creative Exchange, Community Arts Experience, Youth, Changing Demographics, Performance to Policy, Memory & Transformation, and Next Steps. PLUS share your art at a Saturday Night Performance Cabaret at the Courthouse Café in Whitesburg, KY


You may have heard rumors that Robert F. Kennedy is returning to the eastern Kentucky mountains in September. If you have, or even if you are hearing this for the first time, you probably want to know more.

From WED, SEPTEMBER 8 ?– SUN, SEPTEMBER 12 Appalshop is hosting a ?“Real-Time Re-Creation of Robert F. Kennedy?’s 1968 Tour of Eastern Kentucky?” AND ?“Art & Democracy: A National Gathering of Artists and Activists.?”

You are invited to abandon the sidelines and to be a participant in both events. The tour begins in Lexington, Kentucky. The motorcade will carry you into the mountains ?– through small coal mining towns, to political rallies for RFK, and to hearings on poverty (considering social issues then & now).

THE KENNEDY TOUR and the gathering of artists and activists overlap during a ?“moment in history,?” SAT, SEPTEMBER 11 when the ART & DEMOCRACY gathering begins at Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky, and continues on through SUN, SEPT 12.

At this gathering you will have an opportunity to continue the conversation you may have begun with friends and colleagues or at one of the many recent national conversations around the country ?– the Animating Democracy Initiative?’s National Exchange on Art & Civic Dialogue in Flint; the Convergence of Artists, Organizers and Educators in New Orleans; the National Hip Hop Political Convention in Newark; at Urban Bush Women?’s 2004 Summer Institute, Are We Democracy, in Brooklyn; or at Smackdown 2004, the League of Pissed Off Voters National Convention in Columbus.

Such conversations and meetings indicate that at certain moments in history, an idea catches on that transforms how social change is thought about, discussed and practiced. The energy produced in these settings is so dynamic that we here at Appalshop* ?– through the KENNEDY PERFORMANCE PROJECT and the AMERICAN FESTIFAL PROJECT ?– want to capture that energy and carry it on.

The idea that continues to spark us was articulated in Flint by Grace Lee Boggs of the Boggs Center in Detroit: ?“Working within our separate arenas, progressive artists, educators and organizers have hit a wall in our ability to move society towards a vision of a healthier, more equitable world. No longer can we think about social change as a revolution of only the body (organizing), the mind (education) or the spirit (art). It is all three at once in concert, and this calls for nothing less than a revolution in how we think about and practice social change.?”

Both Appalshop events ?– THE KENNEDY TOUR, which has been three years in the making, and the ART & DEMOCRACY GATHERING ?– will provide an opportunity for ordinary citizens to ?“get into the act?” by speaking out as we build democracy from the grassroots up.

The planning for the ART & DEMOCRACY convening is on the drawing board. It includes art works, exchanges of creative processes, community art case studies, as well as sessions on how we relate to changing demographics and social policy, contribute to historic memory, and assist young people who will carry it on. We view the gathering as an opportunity to (1) discuss and demonstrate our work with each other, and
(2) decide what next steps we want to take individually or collectively.

Realizing that it is the young people in our nation who will carry on the pursuit of democracy and that ?“who?” attends the gathering will be as important as ?“what?” takes place, we have agreed to especially encourage the attendance of people under 30 years of age.

Our funds are limited. We ask each participant to pay their own travel costs and donate their expertise to our shared project. A modest Registration Fee is necessary to provide food for the gathering. We are offering a limited number of scholarships that will provide housing in a local motel and cover the registration fee. Included in the registration fee will be a ticket to the PERFORMANCE CABARET ON SATURDAY NIGHT, SEPT 11 at The Courthouse Café in downtown Whitesburg. If you have talent you would like to share while you?’re in town, please let us know. ALSO, the first 50 registrants will be presented with a spiffy GIFT t-shirt upon arrival at Appalshop. FOR COMPLETE INFO ON PROGRAM SCHEDULE, TRAVEL, HOUSING, AND SCHOLARSHIPS GO TO

Time is now of the essence. If you wish to Register for the ART & DEMOCRACY convening OR if you are interested in learning more about scholarship assistance, please contact [email protected] If you want to inform others of the event, feel free to forward this email to them.

The Artists and Organizers working with Appalshop?’s Kennedy Tour Project and American Festival Project to produce The Kennedy Tour and the ART & DEMOCRACY Gathering of Artists and Activists:
JOHN MALPEDE, Los Angeles/Whitesburg, performance artist, director of The Kennedy Project and director and/or performer with of the LAPD (Los Angeles Poverty Department); ELIA ARCE, Los Angeles, artist and cultural activist working in a variety of media including performance art, theater, film/video, writing, and installation;
CARMELA CASTREJON, Tijuana/San Diego, visual artist whose work includes interdisciplinary installations and the use of mixed medias;
JUDI JENNINGS, Louisville, activist, film producer, and director of the Kentucky Foundation for Women;
MEENA NATARAJAN, Minneapolis, a playwright with works produced in both India and the U.S. and director of the Pangea World Theater;
CHRISSIE ORR, Santa Fe, born in Scotland, community/world-based visual artist, recognized for work with youth;
MARTY POTTENGER, New York, playwright, director, solo performance artist, and founder/director of TheaterWorks!;
TOM HANSELL, Whitesburg, Appalshop filmmaker;
CARON ATLAS, New York, cultural organizer;
MAXINE KENNY, Appalshop, American Festival Project conference organizer.

*The American Festival Project (AFP) is a national network of artists based at Appalshop. John Malpede's RFK in EKY was initially sponsored and funded by AFP. RFK in EKY became an independent project in 2003 and now operates side-by-side with AFP under the Appalshop umbrella.

*********REGISTER TODAY*********

PRE-REGISTRATION for the ART & DEMOCRACY gathering is $30. (REGISTRATION at the door is $50)

To pre-register, send the following info along with a $30 check made payable to the American Festival Project today! Sorry, no credit cards accepted for pre-registration.

Address, City, State, Zip:
Email Address:
Anticipated Arrival & Departure Day/Time:

Mail to: Art & Democracy, American Festival Project, Appalshop, 91 Madison Avenue, Whitesburg, KY 41858

If you wish to RESERVE a place at the conference and PAY AT THE DOOR, just copy/paste this form and email it to

Added August 22, 2004