Meet Our Team
Gale McNeeley founded Youth ARTS Alive in 2017 to introduce children to the visual and performing arts. He began his career as a speech teacher in 1968 at an Urban Community School in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, he has taught theatre to children and adults on both coasts. He has been a union actor since 1970, appearing on stage, television, movies, cabarets, circus and street theatre. Currently, Gale loves doing his one-man shows of original characters and songs, bringing Archy the poetic cockroach, and Mehitabel the alley cat to audiences around the country. Visit his webiste and follow on YouTube!
Gale looks forward to seeing children from more and more Santa Maria families joining us for classes each summer.
Alma Flores has been a graphic artist for 17 years. She has a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She has her own business; Soul Flower Screen Printing and Design, LLC, where she uses her talents to create logos, print designs, and graphics for printing. Her passion is to customize items that bring joy to those receiving them. Alma taught Art for Youth ARTS Alive for the first time summer of 2022. She says, “This has given me great excitement to show our youth how to utilize their creative side through different avenues as well as help them find their own journey.” Now she is the director of the program.
The youngest of five children, Oscar Muro was born and raised in Santa Maria, CA, on July 22, 1970. His earliest memories are that of tapping on the family stereo speakers as his mom clapped and sang along to the song being played and of the different sounds coming out of his siblings bedrooms. Music was constantly being played around the house... singing, radio, records, 8-track and cassette tapes. Later, being captivated by an older’s electric guitar playing he starts with formal guitar lessons at age thirteen. Upon graduating high school he attends and graduates from the Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, CA in 1991 and then with a B.A. in music composition from the College of Creative Studies, UC Santa Barbara in 1995. Oscar teaches music privately and with various non-profit children’s after school music programs in the California Central Coast.
Michael Betts was born in Goleta, CA but his musical family relocated to Nipomo when he was five years old. Born March 21st, the same as Bach, on the cusp of the newest zodiac sign and the oldest. The beginning and the end. Michael learned guitar from his dad at an early age and then took all the Music classes at Hancock and transferred to UC Santa Cruz to get a degree in Psychology with a minor in Electronic Music. He was music student of the year in 2012. He has 4 albums released and 1 coming out at the end of summer. After college he produced and starred in two original plays in San Francisco, and moved to New York to work on music. After three years he came back to his hometown just this year and started teaching music at Village Creative in the village in Arroyo Grande. He loves helping students unlock their creative muscles, and helping create songs of any genre. Michael thinks the most important skill to learn in life is to learn how to listen. Sound drives everything in life.
Jenni Torres has been dancing Ballet Folklorico for the past 6 years. She danced with Allan Hancock College, Ballet Folklórico Corazón de la Costa, and most recently with Righetti High School. She has spent the past year teaching and choreographing for the beginning and advanced/performing groups. 2023 was her first time working with Youth Arts Alive, she was very excited to teach something she is very passionate about to the kids in our community!
Andrea Huffman is a Santa Maria native. She started her career as a portrait photographer specializing in the newborn to 5-year-old age group. She continues to work in photography alongside freelancing as a graphic designer. She is excited to be joining Youth ARTS Alive! for the first time to instruct art classes with aspiring artists of the community.
Andrew Banderas comes from sunny San Diego and moved to Santa Maria to attend PCPA’s Acting conservatory. Hes been acting and participating in local theatre since 2015 and dreams of being a teacher in the future. Andrew is looking forward to come teach theater games at New Love for the summer!
Amaris Taylor started her musical training early, having attended Loyola Village Performing Arts Magnet Center in Los Angeles for Elementary school, and was always involved in theater and music classes for as long as she can remember. She sang on three choral tours across Europe in 2005, 2007 and 2008, including the Vatican and the Notre Dame Cathedral with the Righetti Madrigals under the direction of Denise Paulus, and went on to graduate PCPA’s musical theater and acting conservatory in 2011. Since then she has shared the warmth of the stage lights with Grammy winning artists and has been on several national tours as a professional singer, jazz and blues musician and ASCAP registered songwriter with original ensembles as well as tribute bands, having sang on dozens of major stages such as the Tower in Fresno, the Fox in Bakersfield, and the House of Blues in Hollywood before tens of thousands of people over the course of her career. She has also led multiple songwriter workshops for the incarcerated through Poetic Justice Project at institutions such as SLO Men’s Colony and Corcoran. She is currently a dance, theater and private voice instructor at Klein Dance Arts in Santa Maria and loves to see her students discover authentic joy and confidence in their own unique artistic expressions, on stage and off!
Kellie is a dancer and teacher in many genres of dance: ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and hip hop. She began teaching dance at age 16, first through city programs and various dance studios, then colleges. She began her professional career as a dancer at age 18. Kellie has appeared on stage (both nationally and internationally) , film and TV and has a BA in dance with an emphasis in theater. She loved working with all ages and skill levels and is really looking forward to working with the students through Youth Arts Alive.
Shirley Hinzo was born in San Luis Obispo, CA. Having lifelong roots in a central coast farming family, the connection between her hands and the earth began long ago. Preference for simplicity in life is reflected in the pottery pieces she has produced. Her mentors include Herb Knaebel and Bob Nichols, both of whom have provided an environment full of encouragement and excellent teaching. Having been steeped in such an environment, Shirley is grateful to have an outlet that she in turn can pour into others what she has learned. Having been a Youth Pottery instructor since 2008, her enthusiasm continues. Seeing the delight on the kid's faces as they work with clay, and their amazement when their gaze is on their finished pieces, she sees them as priceless and considers herself to be twice blessed.
"As a professional musician and educator specializing in drums and percussion, Sean Sullivan enjoys sharing his passion for music and teamwork in the schools, as well as regularly performing live and in the studio with various local organizations including, San Luis Obispo Symphony, Ricky Montijo, Brass Mash, PCPA Musical Theater. In 2006 Sean was offered an opportunity to fulfil his dream of traveling the world as a performing musician and spent the next 7 years as the show band drummer/band leader with Princess Cruises, visiting many countries in Europe, Scandinavia, Austral-Asia, North and South America, Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Islands. Now Sean focuses on helping the youth of our community experience the JOY of TEAMWORK through DRUMMING as the founder of Drum&Perk."
Anita Tubbs is a certified fitness instructor and has been teaching dance at all our local schools in Santa Maria, Lompoc, and as far as Cambria for the past ten years. Her love for dance has been her lifestyle and passion. She recognizes the importance of the arts for both children and adults, for those who participate and those who watch. She believes Joy must be part of our lives, building a positive community working as a team, and helping each other to bring out the best out of ourselves.
Rosa has been in love with art her whole life. She taught with Youth Arts Alive! for the first time Summer 2022. She says, "This opportunity to share that love with kids is the highlight of my life." She has taken art classes at Hancock for 6 years where she learned that "YES! I am an artist." This experience has given her a new passion to teach what she has learned to others.
Kaydee Lynn is a rising senior. Kaydee has always had a love for the arts and hopes that never goes away.