Los Angeles Poverty Department

“Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) creates performances and multidisciplinary artworks that connect the experience of people living in poverty to the social forces that shape their lives and communities. LAPD’s works express the realities, hopes, dreams and rights of people who live and work in L.A.’s Skid Row.” 

The Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) is a performance art organization made up of people who live on Skid Road in Los Angeles.  Founded in 1985 by performer and activist John Malpede, it was the first performance group made up of homeless community members.  LAPD uses art, culture, and theater to create public dialogue about poverty, homelessness, gentrification, the status of women and children in low-income communities, and other issues that affect one of the city’s poorest areas.  At the very center of LAPD’s philosophy is the notion that the most powerful changes in communities come from the talents and ideas of those who live in those communities.  LAPD participants write and perform plays, present art shows and festivals, and initiate projects that highlight community members and heroes.  Here are some examples of LAPD projects and performances:
  • Festival of All Skid Row Artists
  • History of Incarceration, performance project 2010- 2012, which examines the personal and social costs of incarceration in the U.S.
  • Skid Row Walk of Fame, featuring images of creative and visionary community members
  • Red Beard/Red Beard, a production that recently toured Paris
  • The development of a Skid Row History Museum
  • La Llorona of Echo Park, a play based on the personal stories of Latino women of Echo park
  • Fried Poetry, a group that presents spoken word pieces on spirituality and recovery from addiction
To find out more about The Los Angeles Poverty Department, check out the following videos, links, and resources:
Skid Row Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk Traveling Exhibit and Performance:
Skid Row History Museum:
Los Angeles Poverty Department Recreates the Inhumanity of Prison in New York:

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