John Malpede is the founder of the L.A.P.D. (Los Angeles Poverty Department), a performance troupe comprised primarily of homeless and formerly homeless people who believe in the potential for upward mobility within their Skid Row community.

L.A.P.D. (Los Angeles Poverty Department)

Imagine being told that your state of poverty was permanent and that you would not be able to rise out of homelessness regardless of your effort. In 1985, John Malpede decided to effect change in the perception of Los Angeles’ Skid Row by founding the Los Angeles Poverty Department. Composed primarily of homeless and formerly homeless people, LAPD creates performances that connect the lived experiences of its members to the social forces that shape the lives and communities of people living in poverty. LAPD encourages citizens to take ownership of their neighborhood’s narrative through performative practice, with the aim of giving the arts a place in social policy. Furthermore, these performances offer an alternative to the common perception of inhabitants of Skid Row. LAPD believes in the possibility for mobility of the Skid Row population, resisting traditional and limiting labels like “homeless” or “crack addict,” and placing emphasis on the community’s possibility for growth. Under Malpede’s leadership, the LAPD has created residency programs in various communities internationally.

Lives and works in Boston, MA