COCA Unveils New Renovations in Create Our Future Campaign

 In Culture, News

Center of Contemporary Arts (COCA) in St. Louis did not let a significantly rainy day get in the way of celebrating the completion of its newest renovations this past weekend. In the center’s new and temporary lobby located at its Trinity Avenue entrance, Saturday guests were greeted with appetizers and invited to take in the updated spaces. The center has added new studios–Peacock Studio, Emerson Studio and The Gold Art & Design Studio–as well as the Staenberg Performance Lab, which will be a space for rehearsals and performances. Near the new studios, guests enjoyed additional small bites from local restaurants in the new Dierbergs Kitchen at COCA: another feature of the center’s expansion that will be used for culinary classes and for hosting and serving events. COCA has also partnered with Washington University to open its new parking garage located next to the university’s 560 Music School Building, where those visiting COCA for classes or performances will be able to park for free.

Across the lobby from the newly renovated studios, in the Millstone gallery, artist Edo Rosenblith opened his site-specific exhibition, “Let Me Help You Make a Mural.” Although there are not any major changes set for the gallery, there are plans to update lighting in the space. For his exhibition, Rosenblith has painted the walls entirely black, to mimic a chalkboard and inscribed text and drawings. Those visiting the gallery throughout the exhibition–which closes on August 26–are invited in a myriad of ways to engage with the mural by adding their own drawings.


The unveiling on Saturday marks the first phase of COCA’s Create Our Future Campaign, which is set to bring in $45 million in donations–the largest in the organization’s history. So far, the campaign has achieved $41 million of its goal, with significant contributions coming from St. Louis-based philanthropists such as Kim Kuehner and John and Alison Ferring, as well as corporate contributions from Berges Family Foundation and Centene Charitable Foundation. Phases of the expansion will be named after campaign donors with the money raised being allocated toward renovations of the campus, as well as building its endowment and reserves.

Phase two will begin in summer 2018 with plans to build a new 450-seat theater. Currently, performances take place offsite, with many being housed at Washington University’s Edison Theater. The new Staenberg Performance Lab will be used for smaller performances in the meantime. In addition, the second phase will include a new lounge area where parents and students can enjoy leisure time in between classes, and a safe, accessible pick-up and drop-off area for students. Phase two is set to be completed in 2020.

The renovations were prompted by an influx of students and a goal to provide more opportunities to serve children in the community. Phase one was unveiled just in time to welcome more than 3,000 students set to take part in the COCA’s summer camps and classes.

Images courtesy of COCA.

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