Artist Projects

Los Angeles Poverty Department

Performing Arts, 2009

Los Angeles Poverty Department

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. We want to create a normative community on Skid Row and normative communities for all people living in poverty.  In other words, if they’ve got municipal services in some parts of town, then we want them in ours.  If they’ve got parks, restaurants, community centers, then we want the same. We want the same policing in our community as in others. Not, bending of the laws to serve racial profiling or to effect any other aim such as harassing people so that they will leave the neighborhood so that it can be developed. LAPD values accessibility and inclusion. We meet people where they are. We don’t give life sentences: “homeless,” “drug addict,” “crack addict.” We believe people grow and change. Tolerance. Society judges, gives labels rather than giving the space for recovery. LAPD doesn’t do that. No judging. We build compassion.


John Malpede

John Malpede is a director, performer, writer and the founder of the theater ensemble Los Angeles Poverty Department. The company’s mission is to create performances that connect lived experience ...
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Henriëtte Brouwers

Henriëtte Brouwers is the associate director of Los Angeles Poverty Department and a performer and director with experience in Europe and the U.S. Her work has been presented at 7 Stages in ...
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Kevin Michael Key

Kevin Michael Key is a performer, community organizer and attorney. He is active in the recovery community in downtown Los Angeles and in such advocacy groups as the Los Angeles Action Network ...
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Pamela Miller

Pamela Miller is a magazine writer and editor from New York City. She joined Los Angeles Poverty Department in the summer of 2007 and has worked there in various capacities, including administration, ...
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Awards & Accomplishments

  • 2014

    Major Exhibition

    LAPD presents their first museum retrospective, Do you want the cosmetic version or do you want the real deal? Los Angeles Poverty Department, 1985-2014 at the Queens Museum