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“A brilliant spark that will fly through the air and set the vapors of our insurrectionary imaginations alight.”

John Jordan, founder of Reclaim the Streets

Los Angeles Poverty Department

The Los Angeles Poverty Department, a community theater company, was founded in 1985 by director/performer John Malpede. The first performance group in the nation made up principally of homeless people, the group is committed to creating high-quality, challenging performances and multi-disciplinary artworks that tell the first-hand narrative of Skid Row’s community. Projects include “The Skid Row History Museum” at the Box Gallery in LA’s Chinatown, the “Festival for All Skid Row Artists,” and large-scale collaborations like “UTOPIA/dystopia — 220 Glimpses” and “Agents and Assets,” which integrated panel discussions with the community. The LAPD has created residency projects internationally, working with community drug recovery programs, shelters, policy advocates and arts organizations, and has won awards including the LA Weekly Theater Award, New York’s Bessie Creation Award, and the Otto Award for Political Theater.


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