John Malpede: Creating a Voice for Skid Row

Exploring the culture of Los Angeles Skid Row, the Los Angeles Poverty Department creates a space and an opportunity for the residents to tell their own stories in their own voices. Founded in 1985 by performance artist John Malpede, the LAPD creates and nourishes community through art.  Skid Row residents work collaboratively to create, produce, and perform theatrical, multimedia, and visual artwork. The art created through the LAPD reflects the hopes, realities, dreams, challenges, and accomplishments of the community's residents. Malpede talked with us about the theater company's 30-year mission in one of LA's poorer neighborhoods.

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Audio Tabs

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People holding images speaking at an outdoor podium.

Walk the Talk, 2014

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Skid Row Artists

Festival for All Skid Row Artists

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A man posing with his painting

"OG man & Peace in da Hood" paintings Festival for All Skid Row Artists

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A scene from a play: an official-looking woman testifying before Congress

Agents and Assets, performed in Detroit in 2002 by the Los Angeles Poverty Department.

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Picture of John malpede

John Malpede, Founding Artistic Director, Los Angeles Poverty Department

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Scene from a play: Inmates crowded together on bunkbeds

Highways from State of Incarceration performed by the Los Angeles Poverty Department. Photo credit Jeseca Dawson

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Parade down a Skid Row street

Walk the Talk Parade, 2012. Photo credit: Austin Hines and Henriëtte Brouwers.

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Play performed outside--shot of cast on stage and audience

Agents and Assets, Performed in Bolivia by the Los Angeles Poverty Department.

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Man being honored with a portrait of himself at an outdoor street festival

Walk the Talk, 2012, Photo credit: Austin Hines and Henriëtte Brouwers.

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A young drummer playing in an outdoor street festival

Drummer Derrick at Festival for All Skid Row Artists.

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Brass Band on a Skid Row Street

Walk the Talk Parade, 2014

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People watching a parade on a Skid Row street

Walk the Talk Parade, 2012, photo credit Austin Hines and Henriëtte Brouwers.