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Center of Creative Arts

Senior Director of Arts Programming


Founded in 1986, Center of Creative Arts (COCA) is a national leader in innovative arts education, dedicated the fostering the creative potential of everyone and centered in the belief of the transformative power of the arts to change lives. COCA is the fourth largest multidisciplinary community arts center in the country and annually serves 50,000 people of all ages and skill levels—from enthusiastic amateurs to emerging professionals. COCA’s faculty of distinguished educators provides meaningful arts experiences in its own studios, gallery, and theaters. Outreach programs extend COCA’s mission into schools, community centers, and corporate settings. COCA is one of only 18 schools in the nation accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Precollegiate Arts Schools.

COCA was founded with the intention of being a courageous space for learning and coming together across boundaries of geography, race, and class. In doing so, COCA has grown to become one of the most diverse cultural institutions in St. Louis—a position bolstered by its commitment to accessibility. As a community arts center, COCA works at intersections of the community, collaborating with wide-ranging partners. COCA continues to develop programs and remove barriers to ensure broad and varied participation. It has developed a portfolio of programs to provide many entry points and to reach a diverse body of students, participants, and stakeholders.

Core programs at COCA include:

  • Classes and Camps: Programs in dance, theatre, voice, art, design, and culinary
  • Pre-Professional Division: A youth development vehicle for career and college-oriented students ages 9 to 18, offering highly customized, rigorous, and diverse training and comprehensive support services for students in need
  • COCAedu: Serves 50 local schools/community sites through 270 semester-long collaborative arts integration residencies, after-school arts classes, and professional development for teachers
  • COCAbiz: Develops creativity, communication skills, and adaptive capacities in the workplace through public programs and corporate learning initiatives
  • Performance and Exhibitions: Presents and produces live performances (COCA Presents) and visual arts exhibitions (Millstone Gallery)
  • Community and Public Programs: Hands-on arts engagement and site-specific programming aimed at community building

COCA has gained national recognition for its programs through prestigious grants from the Hearst Foundations, Ford Foundation, Wallace Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and The Kresge Foundation. In 2019, COCA was awarded a What’s Right with the Region Award from FOCUS for “Fostering Creativity for Social Change” as well as a Shine the Light Award from Paraquad for making COCA a more accessible, equitable, and welcoming place for people with disabilities. In 2017, COCA was extolled as an exemplary national model of excellence in the National Endowment for the Arts’ video A Look at Arts Education. In 2016, COCA was the recipient of two awards for advancing diversity and inclusion: the Anti-Defamation League's David M. Grebler Award for Social Justice and a Who's Who Diversity in Color Award. COCA was featured in “The Qualities of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education,” a study conducted by Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, and as a model organization in The Kresge Foundation’s publication, “Building a Culture of Capitalization in Your Organization.”

In August 2020, COCA announced the successful completion of the Create Our Future Campaign, raising $49 million over its four-year effort to support the construction of the Ferring East Wing—an accessible, state-of-the-art expansion. The expansion is situated adjacent to the organization’s long-time home in the historic Erich Mendelsohn-designed mid-century building in University City, which was also fully renovated as part of the project. Affectionately dubbed ‘the house of the people,’ the new combined 92,000-square-foot campus is uniquely positioned to welcome diverse, multi-generational audiences for classes, camps, performances, exhibitions, and community gatherings for years to come. Physical facilities include a variety of dance and art studios of varying sizes, the 450-seat Catherine B. Berges Theatre, Staenberg Performance Lab, Dierbergs Kitchen for culinary arts, and Millstone Gallery, public spaces, meeting spaces, and administrative offices for the full staff.

Looking to the future, COCA has embarked on a strategic process centered on five key priorities: improve equity and impact across COCA’s arts and education programming and engagement; expand COCA’s reach through new partnerships, external communication, and stakeholder engagement; establish a viable and sustainable financial model; evolve and strengthen COCA’s organizational structure and practices for greater effectiveness; and develop and articulate COCA’s visions and goals for equity. COCA’s quest for innovation in arts education and institutional excellence and progressive city-building initiatives, exemplified by Forward through Ferguson, suggest an opportunity for deep social impact through creative expression and engagement.

COCA is supported by a 42-member board of directors, led by President Bill Carson. COCA’s staff, led by Executive Director Kelly Pollock, includes 281 full- and part-time employees and is supported by 300 volunteers. COCA’s annual operating budget is approximately $6.6 million. For the fiscal year ending August 31, 2021, COCA reported a total revenue of $9.5 million, with $6.5 million from contributions, events, and grants and $1.6 million from program services. Total expenses were $6.9 million.


A gateway to the west, St. Louis is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Illini Confederacy, a group of 12 to 13 Native American Tribes. The city has a rich tradition of migration and growth. From colonial change under French, Spanish, and American governments, the area’s growth exploded with the arrival of steamboats, manufacturing, and critical immigrant communities in late 1800s, becoming the nation’s fourth largest city by the 1890s. Population shifts into suburban communities and the Great Migration of African Americans from the South during the 20th century have shaped this vibrant community. St. Louis remains the largest city in Missouri, with a population of 2.8 million residents in the greater metropolitan area. The city has a major transportation and distribution center with an extensive rail network, international airport, and expansive highways.

The iconic Gateway Arch began construction in 1965 and started a downtown building boom that continued into the 21st century. Fortune 500 companies and major manufacturers have supported the local economy and workforce. The Greater St. Louis area is home to major league sports teams, major research universities, and well-developed arts and culture organizations. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is one of the oldest in the United States and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep), The Black Rep, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis are prominent performing arts organizations that are highly active in the national cultural dialogue. The Rep now brings some of its mainstage work to the theater at COCA, demonstrating the collaborative spirit and future-oriented thinking in the St. Louis cultural space.

COCA is located in the Delmar Loop, a six-block center of entertainment, culture, dining, and shopping that has been named one of the 10 best streets in America. Filled with historic locations, the Delmar Loop is both walkable and traversable through MetroLink public transportation. The area is growing and thriving both economically and culturally. Operating within a broadly diverse region made up of dozens of nearby unique neighborhoods, staff and artists at COCA have access to one of the country’s largest parks (Forest Park) and multiple nearby universities, including the immediately adjacent Washington University. COCA benefits from proximity to many other major cultural organizations and attractions, including Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Pulitzer Arts Foundations, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Science Center, The MUNY, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, Missouri History Museum, and more than 40 theater organizations.

A big city with small town charm, St. Louis ranks among the best places to live. It offers a wide variety of lifestyle and living options that have made it a dynamic location for relocating artists and business professionals from across the nation.

Sources: Edited from,,

Position Summary

Reporting directly to the Executive Director, the Senior Director of Arts Programming (Senior Director) will be a member of COCA’s senior leadership team, actively contributing towards the continuing realization of the organization’s mission and vision. This position will be responsible for strategically leading artistic and programmatic initiatives to better facilitate COCA’s mission-driven offerings, which continue to inspire, challenge, and educate COCA’s vast community of patrons and students. The primary responsibility of the Senior Director will be supervising the Artistic and Education programming team. This position will serve as the central conduit of artistic information between the Executive Director, Senior Leadership team, and Artistic and Education team. This individual will advance, implement, facilitate, and advocate for the Artistic Director of Theatre, Co-Artistic Directors of Dance, Director of Education, and other members of the Program and Education teams with regard to their artistic plans and visions, in alignment with the other departments and institutional goals.

As COCA expands its impact within the community, the Senior Director will ensure the Artistic and Education Directors have the appropriate management and administrative support. Fostering a courageous, trusted, and positive environment that allows performing artists and program team members to do their best work will be a required benchmark for this position.

Roles and Responsibilities

Management and Administration

  • Manage the Artistic and Education Directors, supporting the execution of their artistic and educational visions in alignment with the organization’s overall impact and financial goals and in collaboration with the Operations team.
  • Support the management of key external relationships with partners, stakeholders, and funders in collaboration with other Senior Leadership team members.
  • Maintain an effective and collaborative community of staff, board, artists, partners, and patrons.
  • Align the entire organization at all levels to work in collaboration towards programming goals.
  • Participate in setting short- and long-term mission goals while remaining fiscally responsible.
  • Facilitate the creation of departmental budgets and provide financial management oversight to the entire $3.8 million artistic and educational budget and financial models.
  • Collaborate closely with the Artistic and Education Directors and Senior Director of Development & Finance to define, support, and assist programming, administrative, case-building, and fundraising activities.

Programming and Partnerships

  • Develop, plan, and execute a portfolio of innovative artistic programming and arts education that utilizes all COCA’s physical and human assets.
  • Cultivate potential synergies of utilization between the Catherine B. Berges Theatre, Staenberg Performance Lab, and its pool of teaching artists.
  • Collaborate with the Artistic, Education, and COCAbiz teams to create a long-term plan for programming that furthers COCA’s mission.
  • Advocate for programmatic visions to guide effective decision making and management of COCA, in collaboration with the other Senior Directors and the Executive Director.
  • Monitor and maintain accountability for program impact, defining clear goals and progress measures particularly around equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • Build programs and partnerships that particularly address the needs of BIPOC populations.
  • Create community partnerships that strengthen COCA’s presence in the community, build its diverse audience, and fulfill its mission of enriching lives through art, including the cultivation of new COCAbiz partners and business development opportunities.
  • Build bridges into the St. Louis City and County governing bodies to advocate for the arts and amplify COCA’s civic voice.
  • Create opportunities for collaboration with other cultural institutions.

Traits and Characteristics

The Senior Director will be a versatile and resourceful leader with the ability to anticipate complex problems and work collaboratively to solve them. They will value interactions with a range of stakeholders, eagerly solving problems for the board, staff, audience members, and donors. The Senior Director will build on their experience while also being an ongoing learner who is receptive to innovation and new methodologies. Prioritizing tasks and objectives while remaining sensitive and responsive to the needs of others, the Senior Director will have developed cultural competencies and the ability to handle difficult situations with diplomacy and ease.

Other key competencies include:

  • Personal Accountability and Diplomacy – The capacity to maintain not only a high ethical standard, but to set an example of responsibility and tact towards all members of the COCA community.
  • Teamwork and Leadership – The dexterity to appropriately use positional and relational influence to organize people to pursue a collective vision, managed with a clear sense of purpose and direction.
  • Planning, Organizing, and Decision Making – The aptitude to analyze all aspects of a situation and to make consistently sound and timely decisions, including addressing difficult situations head-on. The capacity to establish forward-looking courses of action to ensure that longer-term efforts are completed effectively and efficiently with appropriate participation from the entire team.
  • Time and Priority Management – The demonstrated ability to discern the impending importance of tasks and initiatives and to complete work within a given time frame and resource allocation.


A bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience is required. A master’s degree is preferred. Seven or more years of experience working in the field of performing arts or arts education and three or more years of management experience are required. Strong candidates will be comfortable working in a nonprofit environment that includes budget development and management responsibilities. The ability to work daily in a variety of communities and across lines of difference is necessary. Demonstrated accomplishments in arts advocacy, case making, supporting funding proposals, and general fundraising will be a great asset to the team. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential, including confidence and clarity in presenting to small and large groups from a variety of constituents.

This position will frequently be required to stand, walk, and sit for long periods of time. They will be required to collaborate well with a variety of people, so the ability to speak and hear is preferred. Experience and ease interfacing with individuals with specific communication needs is valuable. Must be able to lift up to 20 pounds.

Compensation and Benefits

COCA offers competitive compensation, anticipated in the range of $90,000 to $115,000. Benefits include full medical, dental and vision insurance; life insurance fully paid by the employer; and generous paid time off and holiday time.

Applications and Inquiries

To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, please contact:

Menon Dwarka, Senior Vice President

2 Toronto Street, Suite 217
Toronto, Ontario M5C 2B5
Tel       (888) 234.4236 Ext. 206

Equity Statement:

COCA is committed to actively and intentionally operating as an anti-bias, anti-racist institution. As such, we promote policies, practices, and programs that create courageous spaces for our COCA community to dialogue toward understanding. We know art is a powerful instrument for social justice. It is a means for people to share history, culture, and perspectives, celebrate differences, challenge assumptions, and find common ground. We aim to be a home to people from all backgrounds. We do not discriminate based on race, national or ethnic origin, citizen status, veteran status, ancestry, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other basis of discrimination. COCA is dedicated to advancing anti-bias, anti-racism work as we grow. As a learning institution, we understand that this work is an iterative journey. We will continue to evolve our strategies in collaboration with our communities in order to remain relevant and impactful.

Click here for the downloadable PDF.

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