Sunday, July 12, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 19

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on June 24th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 17 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 17

PCPA alumna Sarah Raines enters new role as program coordinator for Youth ARTS Alive


Contrary to the timeless Alice Cooper adage, school’s in for summer—at least for Youth ARTS Alive, a nonprofit dedicated to providing free courses in arts education in Santa Maria since 2017. Tentatively starting July 13, local students ages 12 through 17 can take advantage of free classes in theater, music, dance, and visual arts at the Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center. 

It’s alive!
Visit to find out more about the program’s tentative summer schedule of free classes at the Abel Maldonado Community Youth Center, located at 600 S. McClelland St., Santa Maria.

Longtime theater and music teacher Sarah Raines (pictured) will use her new role with Youth ARTS Alive to not only organize the program’s classes but also lobby city government, local businesses, and schools to provide more funds for public art and arts education.

Complying with public safety guidelines, face masks will be required, and each class will be designed to keep participants at least 6 feet apart at all times, Sarah Raines explained. Raines’ appointment as the school’s new youth arts education and arts advocacy program coordinator was announced at the end of May by Founder and Director Gale McNeeley.

“I want to assure the public that we will only have these classes if we can do it in a safe way,” Raines told the Sun. “We definitely want to make the program happen, but not at the cost of the safety of our students and teachers.”

Raines will use her new role with Youth ARTS Alive to not only organize the program’s classes but also lobby city government, local businesses, and schools to provide more funds for public art and arts education. 

Gale McNeeley (pictured, left) founded Youth ARTS Alive in 2017. The local nonprofit is dedicated to providing free arts education courses, including in drumming and other musical concentrations.

“I really enjoy being able to see the plans I’ve made come to fruition. So, if July classes happen, that will be very fulfilling for me to watch,” Raines said.

An alumna of the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA), Raines found out about Youth ARTS Alive’s new program coordinator position through her alma mater, she explained.

“A contact of mine at PCPA heard about the opening and suggested I might be interested, and I was,” said Raines, who studied classical voice at New York University (NYU) before beginning her PCPA adventures in California.

“After [NYU], my career involved a lot of teaching and some performing. When I decided that I wanted to infuse more performing in my career, I auditioned for PCPA,” she said. “My experience there has been very fulfilling. I felt connected to my fellow students almost immediately. The teachers there have pushed me to grow but also to stand by my side when I need guidance.”

Since its inception in 2017, Youth ARTS Alive has provided free arts programming to Santa Maria students ages 12 through 17. Here’s a snapshot taken during one of the program’s past dance courses, taught by instructor Marilyn Mercado.

Other local organizations Raines has worked for include Lompoc Youth Theater, where she directed several shows for the company, including Schoolhouse Rock: Live Jr., The Nutcracker: A Mini Musical, Jungle Book Kids, and High School Musical Jr. She also produced a variety of performing arts workshops for children—in improv, puppetry, and other theater-related subjects. 

While theater, dance, and visual arts classes encompass a huge part of Youth ARTS Alive’s programming, this July’s tentative schedule is slated to include a plethora of music courses, with concentrations in guitar, ukulele, and drumming. Registration is free and available on

“I think it’s a beautiful thing to provide free arts education to youth from professional artists. If we are able to have in-person classes, then I am most excited to see Youth ARTS Alive instructors in action,” Raines said. “And I think we will see the long-term effects of arts education are good for the individual and for society at large.” 

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood is a big fan of arts education. Send comments to

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