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

COCA – Center of Creative Arts 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 is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Precollegiate Arts Schools (ACCPAS).


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 creative potential of everyone and the transformative power of the arts to change lives

Both the artistic process and the artistic product

Diversity and serve as a bridge to connect people

Inclusiveness and remove barriers to make the arts accessible


Innovation and deliver thought-provoking, relevant programs and experiences to the communities we serve

The people who work and volunteer to support our mission

Our unique St. Louis home and the community that is created when people learn together through the arts

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.

2014–2015 Annual Report FY15 Audit FY15 990 Form


Ribbon Cutting