About Urban Arts

About Urban ArtsUrban Arts is a multifaceted outreach program developed in partnership with select urban schools.

Arts instruction, including performances, workshops, and residencies is offered in school and after school. Urban Arts is comprised of five different programs: SchoolTime Arts, After-school Classes, Pre-professional Dance Program, the Scholarship Fund, and Interchange.

Since 1993, the Urban Arts Program has made arts education, performance, and hands on experiences available to more than 50,000 children who would not otherwise have had access to such programs. The philosophy of this program embodies a developmental approach to arts education which considers the physical, emotional, and artistic interests, needs, and capabilities of each student. All programming is provided at no cost to the participants and is sustained entirely by contributions from the local community and national funders.

Download COCA's Urban Arts brochure.

School-day performances and gallery exhibit field trips with instruction in dance, music, theatre and the visual arts provided by national and local performers and artists.

The SchoolTime Arts Program builds on the success of COCA's theatre, visual art and education programs by presenting nationally known performers from the COCA Family Theatre Series and the Millstone Gallery exhibitions by engaging local artists to work in-depth with students and school teachers in the classroom.

COCA artist-instructors work with K-12 students during the school day to provide arts experiences ranging from one-time performances/workshops to long-term programming up to 18 months.

In addition to helping participating students develop technical proficiency and aesthetic understanding of a particular art form, the success of these programs is largely based on COCA's ability to work closely with each school's principal and faculty to customize residencies that meet the schools academic goals.

Examples of past and current residencies include: African Dance, storytelling, playwriting, ceramics, mural making and jazz dance.
Arts education classes taught at the conclusion of the school day, aimed at low income students in urban public schools.

After-school classes in dance, music, drama, visual arts, circus, computer art, and literary art are provided within schools and community centers throughout St. Louis.

These programs not only teach students about a particular art form, but also provide discipline, stability, and self-esteem through arts participation.

After-school programming is developed in conjunction with the school administration. It is designed to enhance the school day academic curriculum and to meet community needs and interests.
High level training and support services including transportation, dancewear and career counseling for talent identified dancers preparing for careers in the performing arts.

The Honors Program, previously known as the Pre-Professional Dance Program offers long-term, highly individualized dance training designed to prepare students for careers in dance.

The program identifies, recruits and trains students and includes a range of support services including scholarship assistance, transportation, academic tutoring, career counseling, dancewear, and opportunities for advanced summer study.

The program offers training opportunities such as classes in ballet, modern, jazz, tap, acting, and voice, as well as master classes with nationally-known teachers and performers.

COCA students have continued their studies and/or careers at nationally recognized institutions such as Interlochen, The Juilliard School, SUNY Purchase, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Houston Ballet.

The program is supported by the Surdna Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and individual donors.

Download a brochure

For more information, please contact:

Lee Nolting, , (314) 725-1834 x113
Both need-based tuition assistance and talent-based scholarships for students of all ages to access COCA arts programs.

The Scholarship Fund ensures that access to arts experiences is available to students who may not otherwise be able to afford such programs.

Each year, the COCA Scholarship Fund administers approximately $175,000 in assistance to more than 300 students for classes and camps at COCA's University City site.

Valuing diversity as a source of vitality and strength for any dynamic community arts center, COCA attracts students from a variety of cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and family experiences.

The Scholarship Fund is supported through generous donations made by individuals, corporations, and foundations throughout the St. Louis community and beyond.

Support Urban Arts and earn state tax credits

Through the Youth Opportunities Program, COCA now has Missouri state tax credits available for your donations to the Urban Arts Program. Learn more.

COCA Urban Arts Program Funders

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation
Boeing Employees Community Fund
Capezio/Ballet Makers Dance Foundation
Cardinals Care
Esco Technologies
Interco Charitable Trust
John Allan Love Foundation
Missouri Arts Council
Monsanto Fund

National Endowment for the Arts
Regional Arts Commission
Norman J. Stupp Foundation
Missouri Dept. of Economic Development – Youth Opportunities Program
Peabody Energy
The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust
Tracy Family Foundation
US Bancorp Foundation
Numerous individuals

The MetLife Partners in Arts Education Program is funded by MetLife Foundation and administered by the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts


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Regional Auditions for Summer Dance Intensives
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Jan 17 - Jan 18, 2015

Leading dance programs from around the country hold auditions for their summer intensive programs. Learn More.


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