General information

Welcome to COCA!

COCA (Center of Creative Arts) has been providing meaningful arts experiences to St. Louisans and their families for two decades. COCA has become the largest multidisciplinary arts institution and one of the most valuable community assets in the St. Louis metropolitan area. We are very proud to have been recognized by the community as "Best Arts Organization" in St. Louis by the Riverfront Times.

Here you will find performances... classes... art galleries... summer camps... places to hold your special event... exhibits... a world of learning, a world of the arts.

Housed in a 60,000 square foot building designed by world-renowned architect Eric Mendelsohn, COCA attracts 50,000 area residents each year thirsting for avenues of creative expression.

COCA's multidisciplinary and multicultural arts programs include performances in our 400-seat theatre; educational classes, camps, and workshops serving individuals aged 6 months through adult; artists' residencies; exhibits of contemporary art in the Millstone Gallery at COCA; and an extensive outreach program offered to low-income youth through our nationally recognized Urban Arts Program.

COCA continues to place its students in prestigious post-secondary programs including The Juilliard School, Tisch School for the Arts, and North Carolina School for the Arts. COCA students have been offered positions in nationally known dance companies such as Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Ballet Hispanico and the Joffrey Ballet. Read more about our alumni.

Mission Statement

Enriching lives and building community through the arts.

Our core values define the ideals of our institution and its people.

As an organization....
  • We value the creative potential of all children and adults, and the power of the arts to enrich their lives.
  • We value our faculty, staff, and volunteers, and a professional environment where their creative talents may thrive.
  • We value the cultural richness that results from serving participants of diverse backgrounds, and from providing programs that include diverse disciplines and viewpoints.
  • We value not only the product of the arts experience, but also the process itself.
  • We value collaboration.
  • We value our building’s historic significance and unique aesthetic, and the architect’s original intent to encourage a sense of community.

COCA's history

COCA was founded in 1986 by Richard Baron, President of McCormack Baron Salazar Inc., in conjunction with the late Dorothy Dubinsky, Mark Twain Banks, Robert Orchard, the Sachs Fund and Trivers Associates. A $2 million renovation in 1985-86 transformed the former B'nai Amoona Synagogue in University City, designed in 1946 by renowned architect Eric Mendelsohn, into an ideal site for a community based arts center. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Read more about the building.

View a video about COCA's work in the community.

Fact sheet

Download our current fact sheet

Annual report



COCA 990 Form


back to top

This Week

buy tickets


SPARK 2015: COCAbiz Creativity Conference
more info purchase

Sep 2, 2015
At SPARK, keynote addresses are interposed with hands-on arts experiences and dynamic conversations led by teaching artists paired with business strategists.


view all