IfeMichelle Gardin is a native New Havener who has been a Cultural Curator with a family legacy of advocacy in the African American community. From the time she attended Bowen-Peters School of Dance to managing the Unique Boutique (New Haven’s 1st African American Beauty Supply Store), Ife has been involved in promoting the arts and expanding cultural awareness.
Ife has always organized events and created ways to showcase artists. Beginning in 1995, with the IfeTayo Cultural Arts Festival to 2005-08 Kwanzaa celebrations at Long Wharf Theater. Ife has worked as a Community Engagement Coordinator for The Shubert Theater, Arts Council of Greater New Haven, and Long Wharf Theatre. She has been coordinator for The Dwight/Edgewood Project, a Yale drama program that matches neighborhood children with Yale Drama students to create and perform plays.
Ife created the Arts@Work Project in the summer of 2009 producing a play written by then-Yale Drama Grad Student Marcus Gardley, who is now an award-winning playwright. The program was developed to teach teenagers about the opportunities in production and backstage positions in the theater. Youth were taught how to build a set, light and sound design, as well as costume design and production. The production was performed at Yale AfroAmerican Cultural Center and at the National Black Theater Festival in North Carolina. In addition, Ife also worked with community-based organizations as a Case Manager at AIDS Interfaith New Haven, and Youth Continuum and Assistant Director at Hill Cooperative Youth Services. She also coordinated the Summer Youth Program at the Community Action Agency of Greater New Haven.
Throughout her life, IfeMichelle has been committed to connecting her passion for culture and arts and enhancing the quality of life for her community and looks forward to further developing Cultural Awareness throughout the region.
Currently, Ife is the Creator Coordinator of the Elm City LIT Fest, a celebration in the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance that will feature LITerature and LITerary Artists of the African Diaspora from CT and beyond.