Appalachian Arts began as the Community Craft Center in 1970 in the back room of an old grocery store. We were founded by Grace Foster and Sara Shepard Starr, who had been hired by the federally funded Anderson County Community Action Commission to “to enrich the souls and pocketbooks of low-income people in Anderson County” as stated in our original charter. In addition to the support received from this branch of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, we received early assistance from Good Neighbors of Norris, The Tennessee Arts Commission and John Rice Irwin of the Museum of Appalachia. Non-profit 501(c)3 status was obtained, weaving, quilting, and pottery classes were begun, and a shop was opened. Looms, potters’ wheels, a kiln, quilting frames, and other equipment were obtained. A jury process was developed to ensure high standards of quality.
Watch this great introductory video!
Today, local people and visitors still gather to share creative ideas and talents, keeping the traditional crafts alive as well as pursuing more contemporary work. The Center has grown to become a highly recognized educational facility and, in 1987, built a new building across the street from the original country store. We have a shop upstairs and studio space downstairs, and we’ve changed our name. We are now called Appalachian Arts Craft Center, and the language of our mission statement has also changed with the times. We are “Supporting arts and crafts in Appalachia through education, sales, and community involvement.” Our language may have changed, but the vision of our founders has remained intact.