SPACE's mission is to empower our youth to discover and trust in their innate ability to be creative, responsible and compassionate individuals through effective training in dance, theater, music and cultural education.
Our program emphasizes diversity, youth leadership, cross-cultual arts, social issues, and exemplary training in the arts. The curriculum may address issues of social, environmental and cultural awareness and activism such as distribution of resources, unlearning racism, gender stereotyping and/or sexual orientation.
After collaborating for ten years directing Performing Arts Summer Camp and other projects, Laurel Near & Paulette Arnold founded Near & Arnold's School of Performing Arts & Cultural Education in 1995. Both women have been teaching young people since 1981.
All our staff are experienced performing arts educators or practicing artists. They are selected for their special ability to relate to young people's training, social and developmental needs. We are also proud of our "Teacher Training & Youth Leadership Program" which nurtures young people who have the skills and interest to become teachers.
Faculty and Staff
Laurel Near is a performer, director and playwright. She was an original co-founder of Wallflower Order Dance Collective. She has studied modern dance and theater extensively, and creates multi-cultural dance and theater projects. She believes that in order to work successfully with children the families that raise the children and the community that harbors them must be included in the process.
If you need to contact Laurel please e-mail her at
Paulette Arnold is a director, playwright, and performer. An instructor at Mendocino College, she has a B.A. from Duke University and was a California Artist-in-Residence for 3 years. She is committed to using the performing arts to interrupt discrimination and harassment and reinforce respect and cooperation. Giving young people the opportunity to express feelings, experiences and ideas in their own words is a major focus of her teaching style.
If you need to contact Paulette please e-mail her at
Co-Artistic Directors: Laurel Near & Paulette Arnold
Business & Marketing Director: Maria Johnson
Latino Program Director: Ignacio Ayala
Office Support: Ellen Weed, Lucia Bianchi, Audrey Gramke
Bookkeeper: Price Waterman
Theater Technician: Steve Wilson
Construction Manager: John Moon