Berges Success Story:

Center of Creative Arts (COCA)

The Power of the Arts

“The Center of Creative Arts (COCA) uses the power of the arts and education to build a vibrant St. Louis that is creative, connected, and inclusive. A national leader in innovative arts education, COCA provides meaningful arts experiences in our own studios, gallery, and theatres, as well as in schools, community centers and corporate settings around St. Louis.”

Community Support

Annually, our accredited school serves more than 50,000 people of all ages, backgrounds, and ability levels — from enthusiastic amateurs to emerging professionals — all taught by roughly 250 distinguished teaching artists.

The Berges Family Foundation’s support of the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) has been transformational in helping COCA fulfill its plans for the future. In addition to the long-term support, community and benefactor encouragement, and a recent matching grant program, we have been able to renovate much of our facility and are in the process of building the Berges Family Theater, set to open in 2020.

Read more to find about our exciting plans for the near future and how COCA changed two young lives.

About COCA

COCA is a nationally recognized not-for-profit arts organization whose innovative programs encourage people to see, think, and express themselves in new ways. As a leader in arts education, and the largest multidisciplinary arts institution in St. Louis, we annually serve more than 50,000 people of all ages, ability levels, and backgrounds.

Through dance, vocal music, theatre, art and design, and beyond, we nurture the artistic and creative potential in our students — and our community.

At COCA, kids are learning more than dance steps, they are learning how to persevere and collaboratively solving problems with their peers. They are growing in their confidence, and succeeding. They are learning to be the types of people and leaders that the world needs. This is the power of the arts to help shape, change, and sometimes even save lives.

One of Many COCA Success Stories

Brothers Miles, 14, and Malik, 12, spend six days a week at COCA. Their mom, Briston, keeps the road between University City and their home in East St. Louis well-worn, making sure they’re always on time for class while overseeing homeschooling for them both.

The brothers came to COCA on scholarship four years ago. In January 2016, Miles and Malik auditioned at COCA’s Regional Summer Intensive Auditions for Dance Theatre of Harlem – they were both accepted on full scholarship! With some additional help from COCA’s Scholarship Fund, they both had a life-changing summer.

Since then, Miles was one of only 200 dancers accepted out of the 2000 who auditioned for the 2017 School of American Ballet (SAB) summer intensive program. He received another full scholarship. After his audition, his mother asked him how he thought he did, and he said, “I did my best. I did COCA.”

Our Gratitude

We cannot thank the Berges family enough for their support of COCA, which in turn, supports our youth and our community greatly. Miles and Malik and all of their fellow dance and theatre students look forward to performing on the Berges Family Theatre stage when it opens in 2020.

There are many ways to help from individual donations and sponsorships to Amazon Smile, eScripts cards from Schnucks,  and as a volunteer. Please see our website for more details and thank you, St. Louis, for your unending support.