Artists and performers band together for Skid Row


Tanya Ramirez

Cardboard boxes, homelessness and shattered dreams are common images that come to mind when Los Angeles’ Skid Row is discussed, but behind the facade is a vibrant community of artists, talent and rich culture.

On Jan. 27-28, the Los Angeles Poverty Department is producing its second annual Festival for All Skid Row Artists at Gladys Park. The festival started last year as a response to an LAPD report that studied art’s positive influence on downtown culture.

The two-day festival will feature dozens of artists, poets and performers in a celebration of the talent and inspiration found at Skid Row.

“We want to give a new outlook on Skid Row,” said Henriette Brouwers, Los Angeles Poverty Department director. “Not many people know about all the art and culture born in the neighborhood, and the festival is a good way to showcase that.”

Th festival offers an eclectic selection or art, performance, poetry and music.

Performers include poet Michelle Yvonne and Sunny Newman, a Stevie Wonder cover artist. Uncle Bean, Crushow, Khalif-A and other aspiring hip-hop artists will also perform 15-minute sets.

The festival is also an opportunity for guests to learn more about and become involved in nonprofit organizations that benefit Skid Row. Nonprofits such as the United Coalition East Prevention Project, which helps the homeless and less fortunate overcome substance abuse, will have information booths and sign-up sheets available.

Fun Zone Reading Club, an organization that aims to help homeless children learn how to read, will also have a booth available. Children can come to the fun zone to hear stories read aloud and participate in activities.

At the festival, both children and adults will have the opportunity to make their own paintings, take part in collaborative graffiti, sign up for open mic or poetry slams and participate in many of the art stations open to the public.

This festival taking place at Gladys Park between noon and 4 p.m. on Jan. 27 or 28 is a free event put on for a good cause.

“There’s so much talent and good being done in Skid Row,” Brouwers said. “It’s a shame we don’t get to see it as much.”