Cover Stories

A Creative Celebration

For more than 30 years, COCA has enriched St. Louis through the power of creative expression, encouraging the artistic potential of people of all ages, ability levels and backgrounds. The new year (and new decade!) will be just as stimulating for the community arts center. It is coming off an impressive $45 million Create Our Future campaign to expand programs, renovate facilities and increase its impact. To help celebrate, the nonprofit is inviting St. Louisans to COCAchella, a music festival reimagining of its COCAcabana fundraiser. “This is a milestone year, so we want to make sure we are celebrating creativity to its fullest,” executive director Kelly Pollock says. “We selected a theme that’s an expression of all things COCA.”

COCAcabana has been held off-site for the past two years, and Pollock is excited to bring the festivities back home. “The best way to celebrate the arts is at a creative arts venue,” she says. “We’ve been developing the COCAchella idea for a few years, but we wanted to make sure we could host it on our campus.” The music festival theme was spearheaded by Daron Hendrix, donor relations and event manager. Naturally, music will play an important part of the evening. Guests will get to enjoy a variety of live performances. The line-up includes Cheri Evans & CEEJazzSoul, Agile One, FatPocket, 18andCounting, The Knuckles, Lunch Money Bandits, Makeda Kravitz and Tonina.

But there is so much more on the docket for the April 24 event. It will celebrate all forms of art with different exhibits and experiences throughout the gallery and studio spaces, including interactive food stations by Butler’s Pantry and a fashion room created by Neiman Marcus. “It’s an exciting way to share all of our new spaces,” says Virginia Howell, major gifts officer. “We want to encourage people to make their own journey, just like they would at an actual festival.” For the first time, the evening also will include an after-hours event starting at 9 p.m.

COCAchella will spotlight the organization’s alumni. This year’s alumna chair is Erin Moore, a dancer who has performed on Broadway and appeared in an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime. “We love to be able to honor our alumni, and Erin is a great example of what a career in the performing arts looks like,” Pollock says. “We also are recognizing Dave and Jane Peacock as our honorary chairs. They have been involved with COCA for many years and are amazing leaders here and across the community.”

As the nonprofit’s only annual fundraiser, COCAcabana is crucial to funding the organization’s programs and scholarships. COCA never turns anyone away for their inability to pay, and it can do so thanks to the support it receives. Pollock is especially grateful to Anheuser-Busch for serving as COCAcabana’s presenting sponsor for 10 years. “We want to serve all pockets of the community, and Bill Bradley of A-B and his team have done so much for our mission,” she says. “Partnerships ensure that our programs remain accessible to the community and that financial issues never become a barrier to participating in the arts.”

COCA’s mission is to enrich lives and build community through the arts. Its COCACabana 2020: COCAChella fundraiser is April 24. Pictured on the cover, standing: Richard and Elizabeth Nix, Sherry Sissac, Gregory Glore, Bill Bradley, Elizabeth Mannen, Dave and Jane Peacock, Michael Goldstein, Erin Moore. Seated: Kelly Pollock, Abby Goldstein. (Styling: Neiman Marcus; hair: Breeze Blow Dry Bar; makeup: Dominic Michael Salon). For tickets and more information, call 314.725.6555 or email Virginia Howell at vhowell@cocastl.org

Cover provided by COCA

Pictured at top: Members of COCA’s hip-hop crew perform at COCACabana 2019.
Photo courtesy of COCA

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A Creative Celebration
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A Creative Celebration
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For more than 30 years, COCA has enriched St. Louis through the power of creative expression, encouraging the artistic potential of people of all ages, ability levels and backgrounds. The new year (and new decade!) will be just as stimulating for the community arts center.
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