LAPD Projects

Welcome to the Los Angeles Poverty Department project archive with information about the history of each project, dates and locations of performances and residencies. You can view our videos and image galleries. Simply scroll down and click on the project you would like to view or choose from the project list below.

This section covers LAPD performance projects since 2000. We are in the process of digitizing all our projects, starting in 1985.

Visit our exhibition projects here.

Project List

The Skid Row History Museum & Archive

An extensive archive of Skid Row History – including planning documents, articles, videos, oral histories, audios, interview transcripts + more – available for casual and scholarly research.

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Recurring Projects


Festival for All Skid Row Artists

Since 2010, Los Angeles Poverty Department produces the annual Festival for All Skid Row Artists in Gladys Park. The Festival creates a unique context that both generates cultural participation and documents it.

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Walk the Talk – parade/performance

LAPD’s biennial project that combines performance, visual art and community conversations about some of the extraordinary people and groups that have made community on Skid Row.

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Performance Projects / Community Conversations


Welcome to the COVID Hotel

Unveiling unexpected lessons about healthcare for the homeless that emerged from LA County-run quarantine sites during the Covid crisis.

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Resilience is focused on individuals’ innate abilities for self-realization and fulfillment, to heal themselves.

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The New Compassionate Downtown

Performance at MOCA Geffen Plaza, May 14, 15, 2021
Visual Art by Robby Herbst
Community Conversations

Downtown LA has long been marketed as a night-life destination. Los Angeles Poverty Department’s “The New Compassionate Downtown,” dares to imagine alternative marketing that draws people to live in Downtown who value the wisdom and compassionate practice exemplified by Skid Row workers and residents.

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Vijay Gupta & Los Angeles Poverty Department with Kronos Quartet
Tune In Festival, October 2020 by UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance

Violinist and founder of Street Symphony Vijay Gupta and Kronos Quartet jam on LA Poverty Department’s Walk the Talk Archive’s performance and interview excerpts.

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2018 - 2019

Public Safety for Real
Community Conversations

The project articulates a vision, in which “Public Safety” is generated by cultivating a sense of mutual responsibility among community members for creating the well being of their community.

I Fly! or How To Keep The Devil Down In The Hole
Performance at REDCAT theater, April, 2019

Skid Row has found ways to articulate empathy, looking out for each other, sharing, second chances, recovery, inclusion, tolerance, and embracing difference. These values and practices are celebrated, analyzed, mused upon, and sung and danced on in Los Angeles Poverty Department’s new performance.

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The Back 9: Golf and Zoning Policy in Los Angeles
Exhibition and Performance

A multidisciplinary art project interrogating the power structures that have literally built Los Angeles. The Re:Code LA initiative and the new codes will first be applied in downtown. LAPD and Rosten Woo translate the political obstacles into a miniature golf course.

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What Fuels Development?

An installation and devised performance which explores the mechanics of displacement in an age of immense income inequality, and Skid Row’s fight to not be overwhelmed by an alcohol fueled entertainment district.

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Chasing Monsters From Under the Bed

This performance project explores the means and process of recovery from mental illness and homelessness at a time when thousands of homeless mentally ill are not only abandoned and feared but also threatened by aggressive policing.

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Red Beard / Red Beard
1999, 2008, 2015

A duet for Akira Kurosawa’s film Red Beard and live performers. The 1965 film’s harsh depiction of the dynamics of extreme poverty resonates today in urban America.

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Agents & Assets  –  Agentes y Activos
2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2014

AGENTS & ASSETS is a Residency Performance Project which seeks to give voice to the people whose communities have been most devastated by drugs and counterproductive drug policies.

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State of Incarceration
2010 – 2014

Los Angeles Poverty Department’s Examination of the Personal and Social Costs of Incarceration in the U.S. Outlining a ritual of incarceration from entry to release and re-integration, State of Incarceration constructs a complex challenge to the societal perceptions and fear-based policies of a nation with the highest rate of incarceration in the world. In a performance space filled wall-to-wall with prison bunk beds, performers and audience share overcrowded conditions akin to a California state prison. 2010 – ongoing.

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For 3 weeks LAPD and the BOX collaborated with dance company SOIT of Brussels to create Settlement, a generative performance project that produces a fictitious community, with a group of performers from LAPD and other Angelenos.

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Do You Want the Cosmetic Version or the Real Deal? Los Angeles Poverty Department 1985 – 2014

The work of LAPD was the subject of a large retrospective gallery show, one of the first in the renovated and expanded Queens Museum in Flushing Meadow, Queens, New York. .

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LAPD and Netherlands-based collective Wunderbaum confront the realities of contemporary healthcare in a raucous and engrossing “ficto-mentary” of love, life, money and death.

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A (Micro) History of World Economics, Danced

Integrating stories of a diverse range of Angelenos with 300 years of global economic history, this work explores the community impact of the financial crisis.

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Biggest Recovery Community Anywhere

The performance explores the concepts of recovery and draws upon the wisdom of company members and other notable members of Skid Row’s recovery community.

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Cold War / Brain Freeze

The Cold War was a war of ideas, not limited to a battlefield but pervasive as only a war can be. Post Cold War free market triumphalism has imposed limits on what kind of society we can envision and create. It raises the question: What have we all lost?

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CPR: a Public Training in Life Saving Skills

At a time when home foreclosures, job loss, and staggering medical bills are forcing more and more people onto the streets, undercover LAPD (Lost And Presumed Dead) heroes share the extraordinary wisdom that accounts for their return-from-the-edge, against-all-odds survival.

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My Eyes are the Cage in my Head

Written and directed by Ron Allen, My Eyes are the Cage in my Head depicts the reality of a tethered humanity in search of itself through desire and self-destructive relationships.

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Skid Row History Museum

A major part of this exhibition are events that will include public discussions with key figures of the Skid Row community, musical and dramatic performances and workshops for Skid Row residents.

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La Llorona: Weeping Women of Echo Park

The legend of La Llorona becomes the through line for relating the personal stories of the Latino women of Echo Park. These are the stories of women who have had to leave their children behind when they came to this country.

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Round Trip

LAPD recreated Allan Kaprow’s 1968 happening ‘Round Trip’ on Skid Row. The happening was coordinated by MOCA and part of MOCA’s “Allan Kaprow – Art as Life” exhibit.

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A series of performance, public art and conversation events that look at the present and future of downtown Los Angeles. UTOPIA/dystopia, seeks to find out how flesh and blood people living and working downtown envision the future of downtown and what kind of downtown they would like to be a part of.

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A 3 month residency project. Nieuwpoort Theater in Gent, Belgium, invited LAPD to develop and present Legal*Illegal, which specifically looks at the ways in which US policy impinges on Belgian sovereignty, including secret CIA flights, SWIFT and immigration policy, with a community cast and Unie der Zorgelozen in Kortrijk, Belgium.

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Sleepwalking Democracy

During a two month residency in Amsterdam, directors John Malpede and Maarten van Hinte, LAPD and Made in da Shade created a new performance about drug trafficking in the Netherlands and it’s effects on society.

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Emergency Evacuation Plan For The City Of Charlotte

A performance was built during a 10 day residency, using insights of  homeless and low income people living in Charlotte to gain a better understanding of the experience of Katrina.

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Fried Poetry

Directed by Ron Allen, Fried Poetry is a skillet full of individual and group spoken word pieces and music on the subjects of spirituality and recovery from addiction. In Fried Poetry, LAPDer’s invoke their insights into recovery as means of healing self and society.

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La Llorona: Weeping Women of Skid Row

The fastest growing segment of homeless population is women and children. LAPD’s project “La Llorona; Weeping women on Skid Row” addresses the crisis of an exploding population of women and children on Skid Row, and the lack of housing and other services for them in the Skid Row neighborhood.

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The Real Deal
Documentary / performance

A documentary chronicling the evolution and impact of Los Angeles Poverty Department (L.A.P.D.) and founder John Malpede.
Produced by the HALO Group, directed by Tom Jones and written by Jones and Malpede.

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Is There History on Skid Row?

This performance/installation was created around the theme of the social creation and re-creation of the neighborhood in Los Angeles know as Skid Row. We rented a store front so the performance was on view and open for the people to drop in for five minutes or four hours.

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