Los Angeles Poverty Department

Our main thing is confusing the categories and always has been. We function in more than one realm, wear more than one hat, and have cred in more than one area.

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.

Los Angeles Poverty Department, founded in 1985, is made up of people who make art and live and work on Skid Row.  LAPD tells the rest of the story, what you don’t hear elsewhere. We create change by telling the story of the community in a way that supports the initiatives of community residents.  We want the narrative of the neighborhood to be in the hands of neighborhood people.  We work to generate this narrative and to supplant narratives that perpetuate stereotypes used to keep the neighborhood people down or to justify displacing the community. We want to create recognition of the community and it’s values.

John Malpede, directs, performs and engineers multi-event arts projects that have theatrical, installation, public art and education components.  In 1985 Malpede founded and continues to direct the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), the first performance group in the nation comprised primarily of homeless and formerly homeless people. LAPD creates performances that connect lived experience to the social forces that shape the lives and communities of people living in poverty. Malpede has produced projects working with communities throughout the US and in the UK, France, The Netherlands, Belgium and Bolivia.