Imagine attending Disney’s “The Lion King,” or Puccini’s “La Boheme,” or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in a comfortable, acoustically perfect concert hall.

But that’s not possible because Central Oregon has no such hall.

We propose to rectify that by building the Central Oregon Center for the Arts.

Our goal is nothing less than to create a world-class performing and visual-arts facility.

Such a center would provide a cultural watering hole, a place of spiritual replenishment, for the growing population of Central Oregon. It also would provide a gathering place for artists and teachers to share their knowledge, vision and voice via music, theater, dance, exhibitions, installations, lectures, workshops, and all other manners of creative expression.

Who We Are

We are a 501(c)(3) comprised of professional and business people, educators, musicians, and patrons of the arts who believe that it is time for a modern, multi-use performing arts center in Central Oregon.

What We Envision

  • A fully equipped state-of-the-art theater of at least 1,200 seats
  • A smaller theater of about 600 seats for concerts and productions
    that don’t require a larger space
  • A “black box” space of up to 400 seats for small productions
    and presentations
  • A green room, dressing rooms and backstage restrooms
  • A visual-arts gallery
  • Visual-arts work spaces
  • Rehearsal spaces
  • Instrument-storage spaces
  • Space to support an arts education program to help engage
    the community
  • An anchor restaurant/brew pub that would be open during regular business hours
  • Retail shops and community areas that will provide broad returns on investment and new creative opportunities
  • Adequate and easily accessible parking

What Impact Can We Expect?

By providing comprehensive access to arts, theater, music and dance to residents and visitors, the Central Oregon Center for the Arts will make significant and dependable cultural and economic contributions to the vitality of Bend, Deschutes County and Central Oregon.

  • The building’s size will be approximately 92,000 square feet
  • The entire facility, including parking, likely will cover from
    5 to 10 acres
  • Its estimated cost will be approximately $80 million

COCA will be paid for through a comprehensive fundraising strategy that includes a capital campaign, special events, e-marketing, and more.

A study conducted by Americans for the Arts (Arts and Economic Prosperity 5: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Organizations and their Audiences in the Central Oregon Region) reported:
$ 0 M
Total arts and cultural annual expenditures in the region.
Full-time-equivalent jobs were supported by arts and culture
$ 0 M
Event-related spending, excluding the cost of event admission.
$ 0 M
In household income paid to residents.

Central Oregon has continued to experience explosive growth in the wake of that study. It seems clear that the above numbers therefore have grown, making COCA even more viable and more necessary.

Get in on the Ground Floor!

A feasibility study is the starting point on this journey and will help us identify the most effective ways to move forward.  Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today to help us make this dream a reality in Central Oregon.

James Knox

“The Central Oregon Center for the Arts would provide our community with a deeper connection with the performing arts to help enrich our cultural world, especially our youth. Such creativity has proven to be the most important step to human development.”

James Knox
Professor of Music, Central Oregon Community College; Founder/Director Bend Children’s Choir
Michelle Mejaski

“A performing arts center is mandatory for Central Oregon as evidenced by continued sold out shows in venues that do not provide the space, rooms, wings, technology, etc. required for any quality production.”

Michelle Mejaski
Choreographer/Director of Mejaski Productions
Clyde Thompson

"Central Oregon’s performing arts organizations have steadily outgrown their available venues, many of which are rented from churches and schools. Meanwhile, Bend has grown into a city deserving of first-rate traveling productions from Broadway and elsewhere. Nothing would unleash the creative energy and vigor of our local arts culture more than a first-class performing arts center."

Clyde Thompson
Founder and Director Emeritus, Central Oregon Mastersingers

The COCA Board of Directors

Laura Thompson

Board President

Laura Thompson – President, board of directors: Founder/president of a leading Southern California event production company specializing in fundraising for nonprofit organizations. Former medical center executive for community development. Lives in Redmond.

Michael Gesme

Board Member

Michael Gesme - Conductor of the Central Oregon Symphony and Professor of Music at Central Oregon Community College for 24 seasons. In addition, he conducts the Cascade Winds, the Central Oregon Chamber Orchestra, and various performances for OperaBend. Lives in Bend.

Katrina Hays

Board Member

Katrina Hays – Professional opera singer and actress who has performed in more than 100 productions. Writer, poet, essayist, guest faculty for the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA at Pacific Lutheran University. Former Artist in Residence at Crater Lake National Park. Soloist with Central Oregon Mastersingers. Lives in Bend.

Valerie Pitts

Board Member

Valerie Pitts - A 40-year veteran educator and superintendent of schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. Has overseen the construction of several performing arts and theater facilities in schools. Sings with Central Oregon Mastersingers. Consults on executive searches, board training, and educational projects. Lives in Sunriver.

Larry Sewell

Board Member

Larry Sewell – A retired police lieutenant from the LAPD, as well as a retired English and history high-school teacher. Long-time choral singer who for the past 10 years has sung with the Central Oregon Mastersingers. Two years ago, he spearheaded the idea that the Central Oregon Center for the Arts needs to be built. Lives in Bend.

Trish Sewell

Board Secretary

Trish Sewell – Secretary, board of directors: Teaches voice at Central Oregon Community College. She sings with the Central Oregon Mastersingers and has been the vocal director for productions with Theater in the Park/Mejaski Choreography, Schor/Kilpatrick productions, Cascades Theatrical Company, and BEAT Children's Theater. Lives in Bend.

Jon Thompson

Board Chair

Jon Thompson – Chair, communications committee: Print journalist, reporter and editor; photographer and blogger. Sings with the Central Oregon Mastersingers. Retired from Los Angeles Times Community News. Lives in Redmond.

Update: COCA in the Time of COVID-19

Donate Now

Tax Deductible Donation

Donate now to assist us in taking the next step: A Feasibility Study


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