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COCAcabana Planners Seeking Help from Neighbors

COCA needs a two-hour noise waiver for its major fundraiser.

The Center of Creative Arts () is asking its University City neighbors for a little help to throw its biggest fundraiser of the year.

Each spring, COCA holds a major event to raise funds for its educational and scholarship programs. This year's event, COCAcabana, is Friday, April 27. Organizers want the party to run from 6 to 11:30 p.m., but COCA needs a permit for amplified noise between the hours of 9:30 and 11:30.

"We've spoken to the city and they've asked us to get the support of the community," said Beth McClure, COCA's director for marketing and communications.

To that end, COCA has created a petition which it is asking its neighbors to sign in support of the one-time noise waiver. The petition, which can be found here, is open to all registered U City voters. All information must be filled out for the petition's online 'signature' to be valid.

The online petition will be open until later this week at which point COCA officials will present it to the city.

COCAcabana 2012

COCAcabana is COCA's annual signature spring fundraiser. COCAcabana is known for its creative themes that are uniquely COCA. Costumes are optional, but many COCAcabana guests look forward to this annual opportunity to get creative and reflect the party theme with their dress. The evening includes a specialty cocktail hour, entertaining live auction, seated dinner, dancing and more than a few surprises.

It brings in over $600,000 each year, which equates to more than 20 percent of COCA's overall budget.

"This is a huge deal for us," McClure said.

Funds raised at COCAcabana support COCA's multidisciplinary programs including the COCA Family Theatre Series, educational classes and workshops in dance, music, drama, and visual arts for all ages, and contemporary art exhibits in the Millstone Gallery.

COCA's award-winning outreach program, Urban Arts, provides free arts education to low-income students throughout St. Louis.

This year's event features celebrity guests and St. Louis natives Scott Foley, Ellie Kemper and Sarah Clarke.

Foley graduated from and has appeared in televisions shows such as Felicity, The Unit and Grey's Anatomy.

Kemper is a graduate of . She is a regular on NBC's The Office and was one of the stars of Bridesmaids. She is the granddaugher of Mildred Lane Kemper, the namesake of the art museum at .

Clarke was born in St. Louis and has appeared in television shows 24 and Nikita. Clarke also played Bella's mother in the Twilight movie series.

Mark Thiel March 05, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Supporting COCA is one thing -- it's a great organization. Supporting COCA when their fundraisers break or evade the law is a different matter Those of us that live within a few hundred yards can attest that they have acted irresponsibly in the past, with not just amplified music, but top level amplified music. They had a fundraiser inside last year; they should continue to do so. Those of you that live a bit farther away; support COCA by sending them money, not by encouraging them to be a bad neighbor to their near neighbors.
Earl Higgins March 05, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Interesting comments Mark. I live further away (6631 Washington) so was unaffected by this. What's fishy to me, and I'm certainly not "anti-COCA" I think they do a lot of good, is that there is no indication of how many signatures they have, or even how many they need. Unlike any petition I know of! Also, it's unclear if you can sign "for" or "against"; looks like maybe you can only sign "for". My worry (and I'm not particularly conspiracy-inclined) is that the petition is just to make it look good, they already have the permit in the bag, unofficially of course. I'm not sure how we can even determine whether this is happening/has happened.
Mark Thiel March 05, 2012 at 03:31 PM
In the past (I can't say exactly how many years ago) I have talked to police on the night of the event and they have said that, yes, it a was ridiculously loud but that they had been told to ignore it (they never said that there was a permit). At least COCA is trying to get a permit now. But those of us near COCA also deal with noise from Wash U and from student apartments. In the past few years this has been much better, thanks to the efforts of the U City police and Wash U administration and police. With Wash U acting responsibly, we should not be encouraging COCA to act irresponsibly. the petition is NOT a petition in favor of COCA; it is a petition in favor of COCA evading the law.
Billy Frank Thornton March 05, 2012 at 06:37 PM
About time we get a COCOgate investigation.
MikeyParks March 05, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Fine with me!

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