Cover Stories

Flip for the Arts: COCA

It’s no secret that St. Louis is full of cultural gems, and COCA shines brightly among them. As one of the largest community arts centers in the country, it is a standout leader in arts education. For more than 30 years, the nonprofit has enriched the St. Louis region through the power of creative expression and has encouraged the artistic and creative potential of people of all ages, ability levels and backgrounds. To make this mission possible, it hosts its largest fundraiser, COCAcabana, each year.

Executive director Kelly Pollock says COCAcabana has a reputation as one of the most exciting and unique parties in St. Louis, and this year’s bash will continue that tradition. The event will be held April 26 at The Ritz-Carlton and is sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, as it has been for the past nine years. Its theme will be Upside Down, an appropriate reflection of the powerful impact the arts can have. “We love the idea of people expressing their individuality through the creative process and flipping the world upside down with their talent,” Pollock says.

Guests can look forward to some amazing experiences, including a performance by COCA’s hip hop crew. Anthony ‘Redd’ Williams, artistic director and hip hop instructor, is the event’s honorary chair. “He has a special role with the organization, working with and inspiring young people,” Pollock says. “We’re excited to honor his many contributions to COCA throughout the years.” One of his former students, Kennedy Holmes, was a finalist on The Voice last year. She will be a special guest at the event, and a VIP ticket grants access to a meet-andgreet with the COCA alumna.

The VIP reception also includes appetizers, special drink tastings and a champagne raffle. “A highlight of the event is always the exciting live auction,” adds Virginia Howell, major gifts officer. This year, guests will be able to bid on a trip to the South Beach Food & Wine Festival in 2020 and other unique prizes like a trip to Costa Rica and tickets to Enigma, Lady Gaga’s Las Vegas show.

The evening’s topsy-turvy theme also reflects COCA’s current state of expansion, according to Pollock. “Things are a bit out of the ordinary and discombobulated,” she jokes, noting that it is an exciting time for the organization. As part of its $45 million Create Our Future campaign, COCA is building a 45,000-square-foot expansion and has renovated its current facility. The construction has kept COCAcabana off-site for two years, but Pollock says the new building should be complete for next year’s event. “We look forward to hosting everyone in our new, state-of-the-art space,” she says. “During this time of growth, it’s even more critical that we maintain support for our programs and operations.”

The fundraising goal for this year’s event is $875,000, and Pollock says funds are critical for supporting the nonprofit’s mission and providing students with scholarships and assistance with transportation, supplies and tutoring. “We serve thousands of local children each year, and our goal is to eliminate barriers and make the arts accessible to anyone who wants to participate,” she explains. “The money raised by COCAcabana goes directly to supporting young people in our community.”

Pictured at top: COCA executive director Kelly Pollock with Bill Bradley, vice president of community affairs for Anheuser-Busch
Photo courtesy of COCA

COCA’s mission is to enrich lives and build community through the arts. Its COCAcabana 2019 Upside Down fundraiser is April 26 at The Ritz-Carlton. Pictured on the cover, in front: Co-chairs Michael and Diedre Gray. Second row: Co-chairs Rachel Seward, Anthony and Stephanie Randall, and David and Kerrin Kowach. Back row: Co-chair Jermal Seward, honorary chair Anthony ‘Redd’ Williams. For more information, call Virginia Howell at 314.561.4870, email vhowell@cocastl.org or visit cocastl.org

Cover courtesy of COCA

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Flip for the Arts: COCA
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Flip for the Arts: COCA
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It's no secret that St. Louis is full of cultural gems, and COCA shines brightly among them. As one of the largest community arts centers in the country, it is a standout leader in arts education. For more than 30 years, the nonprofit has enriched the St. Louis region through the power of creative expression and has encouraged the artistic and creative potential of people of all ages, ability levels and backgrounds. To make this mission possible, it hosts its largest fundraiser, COCAcabana, each year.
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