A Message from COCA Board President Bill Carson

As you are aware, Kelly Pollock has announced her intention to step down as COCA Executive Director on July 13, 2022. During Kelly’s 25 years at COCA across many roles, she has been integral in elevating COCA to become one of the finest visual and performing arts education organizations in the nation. We are appreciative of Kelly’s work to increase the excellence of COCA’s arts programming; establishing key partnerships in St. Louis and beyond, and—especially—her visionary approach to using the arts to address inequities and raise human potential.

Please save the date for a celebration of Kelly’s dedication and leadership on Wednesday, August 31, 2022, at COCA. An invitation and details are forthcoming!

To help identify and hire COCA’s next Executive Director, I have assembled a search committee of senior staff, board members, supporters, and community partners to launch a national search with expert guidance from Arts Consulting Group. A position description was posted in early May, and our intent is to have a new Executive Director in place before winter.

In the interim, COCA Senior Managing Director Alesha Henley will serve as Interim Executive Director. COCA Board has full faith that Alesha—alongside Senior Director of Development and Finance, Jeremy Dewey, and COCA’s outstanding artistic and operational teams—will ensure that the same outstanding experience will be delivered to students and audiences during this interim period.

I’m also confident that COCA’s commitment to our community and core values will endure. We’ve updated our 5-year strategic and programmatic plans to ensure that our community is fully reengaged as the pandemic subsides, and the successful Create Our Future capital campaign provided the physical infrastructure to grow well beyond pre-pandemic enrollment levels. Over the next 5 years, COCA will serve as a creative home and community connector, expanding its reach to impact 150,000 diverse St. Louisans annually through programs, partnerships, and audiences. COCA will continue to remove barriers for young people to engage in the arts, and we will expand our role as a regional and national model for arts education and art-making rooted in the creative brilliance of historically underrepresented artists.

We encourage you to continue to engage with COCA! Dance students present culminating performances in Dance Showcase and the Spring performances of Improve Troupe and Vocal Company are all the weekend of May 20–21. The summer musical, Matilda The Musical, will be held July 22–24. Matilda is a young girl with extraordinary powers who uses her love of reading and storytelling as an escape from her daily life. All performances are in COCA’s new Catherine B. Berges Theatre. Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2022–2023 COCApresents Season.

I’m excited about COCA’s bright future and the many opportunities ahead in this transitional year! THANK YOU for your continued support and engagement: your advocacy and friendraising efforts are deeply appreciated!

Warm Regards,

William Carson

President, COCA Board of Directors