Handbarrow works from the understanding that art and culture are necessary for development projects to support a whole community so that its people, economy, and environment all become healthier and more resilient.

We work through partnerships with arts and development programs that:

  • Draw on art, culture, and heritage to broaden the base of people involved in their community today.
  • Value broad community participation and diverse, inter-generational leadership.
  • Establish infrastructure for arts and civic participation that is ready to identify issues and develop new solutions in an ongoing way after a project is completed.

Handbarrow’s principal artists are Kevin Howard and Mark W. Kidd. Zhivko Illeieff is an emeritus principal artist.

Kevin Howard

Kevin is from Letcher County, Kentucky and is one of a handful of younger musicians who are keepers of a tradition of Appalachian old time banjo and string band music specific to his area. That tradition is itself only one of a handful of place-specific music traditions with an interrupted lineage in this part of the country.

Kevin also performs traditional Appalachian musical forms from other areas of Appalachia as well as more modern genres of music. Kevin’s musical range extends from a cappella ballads to punk and heavy metal, a background he puts to use in work teaching young musicians, one of Kevin’s passions.

For the last six years, Kevin has been among the faculty of the award-winning “Passing the Pick and Bow” program which offers traditional music education in public schools in Southeastern Kentucky. Kevin is also the director of the annual Cowan Creek Mountain Music School, a weeklong traditional music training program that provides a weeklong opportunity for more than 150 people of all skill levels to learn and play the music of Appalachia from more than a dozen instructors.

Kevin is a founding member of Handbarrow and his work has been featured publications including National Geographic Magazine and the Louisville Courier-Journal. He is an experienced radio producer, and his forthcoming album on June Appal Recordings “Crossing the Line” features traditional acoustic performances alongside experimental electric interpretations of songs he has gathered in Southeastern Kentucky.

Mark W. Kidd

Mark facilitates community workshops and residencies that incorporate theater, low-cost media, and cultural organizing. In addition to his work as a founding member of Handbarrow, a team of artists and nonprofit community development practitioners based in Central Appalachia, Mark is an emeritus ensemble member of Appalshop’s Roadside Theater. Mark lives at the base of Pine Mountain in Whitesburg, Kentucky and on his family farm at Little Mud, Kentucky.

Mark serves as a board member of Appalshop, Alternate ROOTS, and The Future of Eastern Kentucky and serves on the steering committee of the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange. He is a voting member of the Central Appalachian Regional Network and is a longtime member of the Appalachian Studies Association.

Mark was one of six national recipients of the Theatre Communications Group’s New Generations / Future Leaders Fellowship in 2012 and 2013 on the basis of his work in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia and Southeast Kentucky. Mark co-created the “Appalshop Innovation Lab” curriculum for community leaders to use public narrative and low-cost media practices to link community expertise with policy issues and to create opportunities for change from the ground up. His prose has been published by Americans for the Arts, the Daily Yonder, the Kentucky Caver, and Animating Democracy. His poems have appeared in The Clinch Mountain Review, Qarrtsiluni, and Still.