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The New Compassionate Downtown

Los Angeles Poverty Department

Performance | 2021


Hours to view installation: Sunrise to sunset
Link to view recording of performance available mid-May

The New Compassionate Downtown, a performance by Los Angeles Poverty Department, presented by The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Image courtesy of LAPD.

MOCA Geffen Contemporary
152 N Central Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

For more information visit

About the Project

Downtown L.A. has long been marketed as a nightlife destination. Los Angeles Poverty Department’s The New Compassionate Downtown dares to imagine a downtown that attracts people who value the wisdom and compassionate practice exemplified by Skid Row workers and residents. In The New Compassionate Downtown, an alternative marketing approach touts downtown as “a place you can live guilt and resentment free. No longer will the subterranean guilt of ignoring privilege haunt you and through psychological displacement manifest itself as anger.”

Work on the performance began pre-pandemic and explores themes that have gained resonance in the past year. The performance is set at a meeting of The New Compassionate Downtown, a diverse group of people living and working in all parts of downtown, who embrace building a community of compassion. The performance cuts from the meeting to scenes that concretely explore compassion, in action, as life unfolds daily. The performance, staged in a socially distant manner by a cast of eleven performers, is live streamed and recorded.

Los Angeles Poverty Department is a performance group of people who live and work in Skid Row. All the cast members have contributed to this script. The performance is directed by John Malpede and Henriëtte Brouwers.

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WE RISE is the annual Mental Health Awareness Month initiative of the Los Angeles County Department of Health’s ongoing WHY WE RISE campaign, funded by sponsorships and Prop 63.

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WE RISE honors the profound contribution of Tongva Elder and WE RISE artist Julia Bogany who passed away March 28, 2021 in Los Angeles. We uplift her voice as an incredible leader who used arts and culture to educate, elevate and build community.

“We, the Indigenous People, the Traditional Caretakers of this landscape are the direct descendants of the First People who formed our lands, our worlds during creation time. We have always been here. Our Ancestors prepared and became the landscapes and worlds for the coming of humans with order, knowledge and gifts embedded in the landscape. Our Ancestors imbued us, who now live here, with the responsibility and obligations of our original instructions as told to us in our creation stories. We are guided by protocol and etiquette to be part of, take care of, and ensure the welfare of the NATURE, the extended family and community defined in its most inclusive expression. We pass those teachings and responsibilities onto our children, grandchildren and many generations to come.”

- Julia Bogany. October, 2020.

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