COCA’s mission is to enrich lives and build community through the arts.

The Center of Creative Arts (COCA) is a nationally recognized not-for-profit arts organization whose innovative programs encourage people to see, think and express themselves in new ways.

As a leader in arts education, and the largest multidisciplinary arts institution in St. Louis, we annually serve more than 50,000 people of all ages, ability levels and backgrounds. Through dance, vocal music, theatre, art and design, and beyond, we nurture the artistic and creative potential in our students – and our community.

COCA offers arts-based events, training and programming to:

  • Dedicated students in dance, voice, theatre, and art and design
  • Recreational learners across arts disciplines
  • Area schools through our COCAedu program
  • Business leaders through our COCAbiz program
  • Community members through our performances and exhibitions
  • The ability of arts to enrich lives

  • The creative potential of children and adults

  • The need for welcoming spaces where talent can thrive

  • The value of the artistic process, beyond the artistic product

  • The creative power of diverse backgrounds, disciplines and ideas

COCA strives to provide the highest quality arts instruction, exemplify social and artistic diversity, offer hands-on experiences and promote economic and cultural accessibility. Throughout our history, equal access to meaningful arts experiences is a value that has shaped our programming – and our passion for our work.

A Historic Space

COCA was founded in 1986, when developer Richard D. Baron transformed the historic but vacated B’nai Amoona Synagogue into a community-based visual and performing arts center. Designed in 1950 by internationally renowned architect Eric Mendelsohn, the building was architecturally and geographically conducive to becoming a center for the arts that could unite people previously divided by racial, socioeconomic, and geographical differences.

In 2004, a beautiful renovation and 11,000-square-foot addition in the spirit of Mendelsohn’s original design expanded the facilities to meet the needs of COCA’s burgeoning student population. The building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Download COCA Annual Report