It’s a story that starts with a small group united by friendship, idealism, and an entrepreneurial spirit – Richard Baron, Dorothy Dubinsky, Mark Twain Banks, Robert Orchard, the Sachs Fund and Trivers Associates. Together, they transformed the recently vacated historic B’nai Amoona Synagogue into a community-based visual and performing arts center. The idea: through the arts, COCA would serve as a bridge to connect people.
COCA began as an arts incubator with studios, a gallery, and a theater in the synagogue’s former sanctuary. More than 30 small arts groups moved in, but much of the building remained empty. Enter COCA Founding Executive Director Stephanie Riven whose first task was to develop classes in the performing and visual arts—programs that would eventually become the core of the organization.
Since its humble beginnings, COCA has grown into the fourth largest multidisciplinary community arts center in the country. Under the leadership of Executive Director Kelly Pollock since 2010, COCA has expanded its reach and impact through innovative new programs that push boundaries, all aimed at building St. Louis’ creative capacity.
In August 2020, COCA announced the successful completion of the Create Our Future Campaign, raising $49 million over its four-year effort to support the construction of an accessible, state-of-the-art expansion, the Ferring East Wing, which includes the incomparable 450-seat Catherine B. Berges Theatre, in addition to supporting endowment funds for scholarships, support services, artistic and educational programming. The ambitious project ensures COCA will be able to serve St. Louis for years to come.
2018–2019 Annual Report FY20 Audit FY18 990 Form
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