Ifetayo Cultural Arts Facility

Award Recipients - 2001

Sister Kwayera Cunningham, Founder and Executive Director

Sister Kwayera created the Ifetayo Cultural Arts Facility (Ifetayo) to provide arts education, history and cultural exchange to African American youth and their families.  The word “Ifetayo” comes from the West African Yoruba language.  It means “love brings happiness,” and reflects a nurturing approach to youth development and community building.  Students, parents, staff and volunteers are welcomed as part of an extended family to engage in a supportive and creative environment.  Since 1989, Ifetayo has provided performing and visual arts classes, academic instruction, individual and family counseling, and health workshops.  Renowned artists provide instruction and mentoring.  
Ifetayo serves over 500 students annually in programs held at a neighborhood school.  A core program is Ifetayo’s Youth Ensemble for girls and young women ages 6 through 19.  Its goal is to develop “confident young women strongly rooted in their culture and responsible to their community.”  The ensemble produces and performs original works and addresses emotional and spiritual growth via peer mentoring and a year long rites of passage program that includes health and sexuality information, cultural awareness, and a traditional ceremony held in Africa.  Ifetayo’s Cultural Arts Program provides children ages 5 to 19 with Saturday classes in dance, voice, drumming, arts, crafts, drama, and creative writing.  Ifetayo also offers arts programs after school and within the school curriculum.

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