Press Releases


By August 7, 2020No Comments

Prepares to welcome students and community into new state-of-the-art facility Create Our Future Campaign Achieves $49M towards $45M Goal

Photo By Douglis Beck

ST. LOUIS, August 3, 2020 – COCA – Center of Creative Arts – is celebrating 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.

Photo By Douglis Beck

The expansion is situated adjacent to the organization’s long-time home in the historic Erich Mendelsohn-designed mid-century building in University City at 6880 Washington Avenue – named the Kuehner West Wing and renovated as part of the project. The new combined campus, affectionately dubbed “the house of the people” is uniquely positioned to welcome diverse, multi-generational audiences for classes, camps, performances, exhibitions, and community gatherings for years to come.

“The Campaign Steering Committee is deeply grateful for the extraordinary way individuals, businesses, and foundations have come together in support of this vital organization’s mission,” said Cheryl Holman, Create Our Future Committee Chair. “Those who value creativity in St. Louis and beyond have sent a resounding message that the arts are a part of the fabric of our community and must be nurtured.”

The grand scope of the project, and the resulting construction, is fitting for an accredited, nationally-renowned institution that is the fourth largest multi-disciplinary arts center in the United States. With this milestone, COCA, known for on- and off-site educational opportunities for all ages, is further fulfilling its mission to enrich lives and build community through the arts.

Photo By Douglis Beck

“I’m thrilled beyond measure to have the St. Louis community experience this beautiful new space.” said Kelly Pollock, COCA’s Executive Director. “We want to ensure that this is a welcoming and inclusive space in which we tell the stories that need to be told, develop voices that need to be heard, connect people in more meaningful ways, and make art that feeds our community’s spirit and soul.”

Currently, due to COVID-19, the facility is open with safety measures in place for a limited capacity to summer class students only. Patrons can be among the first to explore the expanded campus through small group, guided tours beginning in September. Information to sign up for a scheduled tour will be available in the coming weeks. Additional information about COCA’s Fall classes and registration will be available beginning on August 14. In-person and virtual class offerings are slated to begin on September 8th

The Create Our Future campaign was spearheaded by a Steering Committee, chaired by Holman, with Honorary Chairs Alison and John Ferring.

Founded in 1986, COCA is the fourth largest multidisciplinary community arts center in the country, one of only 16 schools in the nation accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Precollegiate Arts Schools (ACCPAS), and a national leader in innovative arts education. With a mission to enrich lives and build community through the arts, COCA serves 50,000 people of all ages and skill levels, from enthusiastic amateurs to emerging professionals—all taught by a faculty of distinguished arts educators. We provide meaningful arts experiences in our own studios, gallery and theatres as well as in schools, community centers and corporate settings in order to build a vibrant St. Louis that is creative, connected and inclusive. Visit to learn more.

S. M. Wilson is a full-service construction management, design/build and general contracting firm with headquarters in St. Louis. For nearly 100 years, S. M. Wilson has provided a complete range of services and has become one of the leading general construction and construction management firms in the St. Louis area. The employee-owned company is dedicated to going above and beyond expectations for their clients by putting people first. For more information, visit

This press release was originally published by COCA.