The Arts and Culture Department of the City of Mesa, Arizona serves as the cultural liaison and ambassador for the City; the chief advocate for the importance of arts and culture to community life, education and economic development; and the oversight body for the three City-owned arts and culture venues/programs: the Arizona Museum for Youth, the Arizona Museum of Natural History, and the Mesa Arts Center. 

The Department seeks to engage with businesses, educational institutions, community members, volunteers, City staff, and other cultural and government entities to further the vision, mission and goals of the Department’s Strategic Plan and support the Strategic Initiatives of the Mesa City Council.  The Department supports the idea that arts and culture—rooted in the value that creativity and discovery are the engine of human progress and well-being—are essential to healthy and civilized societies, and to fulfilled and productive human activity.

Museum Board






idea Museum

        Mesa Arts Center      

Arizona Museum of Natural History





Arts & Culture Department Strategic Positioning 2013-14

Mesa will be a nationally acclaimed destination, known for its innovations and quality in arts and culture, and for a community deeply engaged and committed to cultural programs and participation.

To strengthen the creative, social and economic fabric of our community and region through inspiring, relevant, fun and transformational cultural experiences.



  • High Standards & Continuous Improvement
  • Innovation & Creativity
  • Integrity& Respect
  • Teamwork & Collaboration
  • Exceptional Customer Service & Community Ownership
  • Inclusivity & Accessibility


  • Enhance and promote Mesa as a city offering extraordinary opportunities for learning, discovery and creativity
  • Support the development and sustainability of a strong Creative Economy
  • Increase the value the public places on arts and culture
  • Strengthen the sustainability of Mesa’s arts and culture community



  • Connect the diverse segments of our community with our organizations and programs, and those of partnering organizations, through active engagement, outreach and education
  • Maintain and increase the quality of our programs, services, customer service and facilities
  • Increase the numbers of patrons and donors
  • Increase the visibility and awareness of our organizations and programs
  • Act as a catalyst for the creation of activated public spaces and a visual strategy for Downtown Mesa



1.     Develop a detailed branding/awareness plan for our programs and organizations
TACTIC:   Develop a strategic communications plan for the department and each entity, implemented across program areas to create stronger branding and brand communication to support audience and donor development.  Sequentially build messaging and increase opportunities to generate interest and awareness separate from “transactional” marketing/public relations
TACTIC:   AMY “Image for the Future” Initiative Phase I and II completed; Phase III underway.  In FY14, AMY will be implementing Communications, Marketing & Social Media Plan to reach target audiences locally, regionally & nationally for i.d.e.a. Museum launch in early 2014.
TACTIC:  Take advantage of major opportunities for cross-promotion, including tourism initiatives, higher education partnerships, cultural activities at other venues, and partnerships with CVB, MHM and others.   
TACTIC:  Enhance awareness of Mesa Contemporary Arts, MAC’s art museum, using free admission as an opportunity to increase visibility and interest.
TACTIC:  Enhance engagement and accessibility of web sites and social media, creating aggressive program to drive traffic and participation, and build new audiences. 
TACTIC:  Pursue key messaging through media and presentations that position MAC within the cultural community as the premier venue in the Phoenix area for artistic presentations in the visual and performing arts.
TACTIC:  Stage signature, original festivals, special events and promotions that increase awareness and create trial opportunities for new audiences. 

2.     Continue to develop/strengthen an outreach/education/program plan that extends our reach beyond our walls into the community and region
TACTIC:  Continue and expand MAC’s Creative Aging Program through use of selected artists to work with older adult populations in downtown Mesa and East Mesa, the Jazz A to Z Program for schools, and the Culture Connect program to help area youth explore diverse cultures through arts experiences.
TACTIC:  Continue to expand outreach activities and event participation for AMY/i.d.e.a. Museum.
TACTIC:  Build awareness of Mesa Grande Cultural Park in 2013-14, expanding visitorship and programming, and building an education program in the venue’s first full season open to the public.
TACTIC:  Continue means of bringing cultural experiences into the community/neighborhoods, including further exploration of a possible Arts & Culture RV or Bus—an on-the-go activity center that can easily open and engage at festivals, neighborhood parties, libraries, parks, serving youth and families.

3.     Continually pursue programs and partnerships of high quality and diversity, seeking to identify and present new, unique and transformative experiences
TACTIC:  Present a mix of big name performers and emerging artists at MAC, providing experiences to appeal to a wide variety of audiences.
TACTIC:  Continue to develop festivals and special events, collaborating as possible with educational institutions and Mesa businesses and entrepreneurs. 
TACTIC:  Make quality programming accessible through free admission at MCA, Out to Lunch Concert Series at MAC, Target 3 for Free, participation in ACF, Celebrate Mesa and other community events.
TACTIC:  Continue Creative Economy Fund to stimulate new partnerships and expand opportunities for Mesa citizens.
TACTIC:  Present popular exhibitions at museums that provide educational and entertainment value, including Weather or Not: Art with Atmosphere and Art of the Robot at AMY/i.d.e.a. Museum; Art of the Ancient Americas and Art of Carl Oscar Borg at AzMNH; and Messin’ with the Masters and the Annual Contemporary Craft exhibitions at MCA.
TACTIC:  Employ innovative programs and techniques, including using technology to augment and deepen audience experiences, and featuring subject expert artists-in-residence. 
TACTIC:  Continue Mesa’s participation in the Valley-wide “InFlux” program that sites temporary public art projects in downtown areas, and pursue façade and public art projects that engage visitors and attract new audiences.

4.     Pursue joint planning and implementation of key initiatives with community partners
TACTIC:  Further develop higher education partnerships, including those with ASU Polytechnic and Tempe campuses to increase and enhance the cultural life of both the university students and downtown Mesa, create opportunities for integrated learning, and generate public experiences through programming, exhibition or special events that engage students as both creators and participants. Build upon existing partnerships with Benedictine University and Wilkes University, and explore new collaborations with Westminster, Upper Iowa and Albright.
TACTIC:  Build collaborations with regional cultural institutions, artists and scientists to jointly provide services and develop new audiences.
TACTIC:  Continue to increase collaboration with downtown partners, including planning for public spaces and the activation of those spaces, invitations to participate in public events, and expanded cross-promotions with businesses/ restaurants. Several key initiatives include ARTS + EATS restaurant program, market study for possible Artspace project, community collaboration for ArtPlace project, and planning for other downtown projects to enhance creative vitality and vibrancy in Mesa.
TACTIC:  Explore expanded cultural exchange programming through Mesa Sister Cities Association, Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens, the Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix, and other regional cultural entities.

5.     Build and maintain strong public advocacy for our organizations, our work and the value of what we do
TACTIC:  Activate web page on City of Mesa web site; create live links for tactics in progress to show forward momentum and create/communicate opportunities for involvement
TACTIC:  Continue to hone shared key messaging, pursue public presentation opportunities and ensure representation at key events and activities;
TACTIC:  Participate actively in industry forums and advocacy efforts, including National Arts Education Council, IAVM Committee, AZ Presenters Alliance, Mesa CVB, Valley Cultural Leadership group, AZ Sci-Tech Festival, AZ Humanities Council, AZ Archaeological Society and Association of Children’s Museums, for which i.d.e.a. Museum will help host the national conference in May 2014.

6.     Develop a plan for consistently and systematically gathering data, information, intelligence
TACTIC:  Harness and work to maximize data mining and analysis from the Cultural Data Project (CDP), TRG Community Database Project, the upgraded Audience View ticketing system and the new Active Network front desk software to help us better understand our audiences and resources, and enhance our ability to reach new audiences and new opportunities for fundraising.  MAC and AMY/i.d.e.a. Museum received Piper/Flinn Foundations grant for technical assistance from TRC to increase/improve use of CDP data to meet strategic objectives.
TACTIC:  AMY, as part of Image for the Future, has conducted a research study and is using data in planning the i.d.e.a. Museum’s new branding.
TACTIC:  All three venues are implementing patron surveys, working to increase survey participation/implementation, and reviewing and analyzing results.
TACTIC:  Continue conducting ongoing surveys to determine patron satisfaction with programs and customer service, and to receive audience input.
TACTIC:  Conduct additional community research to engage citizenry and better understand impressions and needs of the community, and develop strategies and tactics aligned with community needs and desires

7.     Create a “culture of philanthropy”—a development and cultivation plan shared and supported by all staff members
TACTIC:  Work with supporting organizations to increase the number of potential donors identified and cultivated, increase cultivation activities and engage more staff in implementation; obtain and use prospect identification software/services.  All three venues are actively working to strengthen development efforts, working with volunteers to work efficiently and strategically, given limited staffing, and increasing membership cultivation activities.
TACTIC:  Engage staff and boards in helping to identify potential sponsors and significantly increase efforts to solicit sponsorships.
TACTIC:  Seek implementation of recommendations in 2013 Development Assessment by Arts Consulting Group in an effort to maximize contributed income opportunities.

8.     Continuously improve customer service in all areas, welcoming every visitor and addressing the needs of all
TACTIC:  Increase and enhance customer service training for front-line staff
TACTIC:  Partner with community organizations to reach widely diverse audiences, including all ages, ethnic groups, socio-economic and geographic sectors.
TACTIC:  Keep abreast of the latest developments in ADA, ensure compliance and reach out to organizations for the physically and mentally challenged to provide opportunities and services. 
TACTIC:  Develop amenities at MAC, including café/food service.

9.     Improve communication across internal areas and organizations.
TACTIC:  Continue to increase opportunities for inter-departmental planning and dialogue at all-staff meetings; systematize regular departmental communications.
TACTIC:  Re-establish regular interaction between the Museums and MAC Marketing area to identify beneficial promotional opportunities for the department.

10.    Coordinate program and operational activities for greater efficiency and impact
TACTIC:  Continue coordination of marketing initiatives and shared promotional vehicles—use our creativity to maximize both efficiency and impact
TACTIC:  Establish ongoing processes for identifying coordinated programming opportunities and taking advantage of synergies
TACTIC:  Continue successful efforts to share rental sales and rental servicing across department
TACTIC:  Build on successful volunteer program, further developing numbers, diversity of skills, new roles and opportunities


Application Deadline EXTENDED: July 3, 2014 - 5:00 pm

Online Application button     Print button

As part of a larger initiative to further activate the urban center of Mesa, to increase the growing number and variety of offerings at the Mesa Arts Center in downtown Mesa, and to continue to build an environment of creativity and discovery in the downtown district, the CREATIVE ECONOMY FUND in-kind grant program is being continued for a second year.  The intent of this program is: 1) to provide support to professional and semi-professional organizations who use or wish to use the MAC venues; 2) to bring new cultural offerings to the Mesa and East Valley communities; and 3) to encourage new organizations to experience presenting or producing an event at the MAC, in order to form new partnerships and relationships among and across cultural organizations in the region.
The City of Mesa Department of Arts and Culture CREATIVE ECONOMY FUND will support reduced rental rates at the Mesa Arts Center for non-profit organizations presenting an arts project, event, activity, workshop or a series of any of the above. Organizations may submit only one application for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Applicants may submit proposals requesting reduction of rent for the use of Mesa Arts Center theaters, Studios or Shadow Walk, or Mesa Contemporary Arts lecture hall or courtyard for the purpose of presenting quality arts programs for the Mesa community and region. The proposed projects must take place between September 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014.
Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A concert or series of concerts
  • A theater, dance or spoken word production
  • A collaborative or interactive community art project
  • A festival
  • A workshop or class(es) in the visual or performing arts
  • A multidisciplinary project


Applicants must be a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. While arts and culture organizations are strongly encouraged to apply, other non-profit organizations that are offering arts programming to the public are also welcome to apply. Non-profit organizations whose tax-exempt status is pending may apply one time only through a non-profit fiscal sponsor. A letter from the fiscal sponsor must accompany the application.
Organizations that are applying for support for the 2014-15 fiscal year through the MAC Foundation’s ACES Program (Arts and Cultural Education Sponsorship) should be aware that they are not eligible to receive support through both programs, and must disclose if they have submitted an ACES application or plan to do so. ACES is primarily designed to support presentations by educational/student organizations and or presentations by community organizations that are specifically geared to educational audiences.
The funded project must take place at the Mesa Arts Center before June 30, 2015.
Those applicants who have presented or will present performances, festivals or other activities at the Mesa Arts Center during the current fiscal year, July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015, must include as part of the project for which support is requested a community engagement, education or audience development activity or initiative that expands on previous efforts of these kinds. We want the support each organization receives through the Creative Economy Fund to enable growth of the organization’s audiences and value to the community.
Examples of activities that fulfill this requirement include workshops, audience talk-backs, lecture-demonstrations, school or community based performances or outreach activities, discount ticket offers, ticket giveaways to low-income or underserved audiences, and special promotions that reach new audiences, although this is by no means an exhaustive list. Creativity in responding to this requirement is encouraged, and a thoughtful plan will increase the likelihood of receiving support.

Amounts requested for rent reduction may not exceed the total amount being paid in facility rental fees.  Funding awarded to any one organization will not exceed $5,000, and for most applicants is unlikely to exceed $2,500. 
The amount requested can cover space rental fees only; all production, front of house, or ticketing fees that are not included as part of the rental fee will not be eligible for funding but must be included as expenses in the project budget.  Marketing services will not be provided as part of this support, but all projects taking place at Mesa Arts Center will be included as calendar listings on MAC’s web site and promoted on our digital marquees.
As a requirement of the application, you must discuss calendar availability and cost estimates with Mesa Arts Center’s Event Services Supervisor, Kim Forbes, 480-644-6580 or, prior to developing your budget.
The events held at the Mesa Arts Center through the Creative Economy Fund cannot be fundraising events or promoted as such by the presenting/producing organization, whether for your own or another organization or cause.

Each applicant awarded support by the City of Mesa Department of Arts and Culture Creative Economy Fund must provide the City with a follow-up report and a financial report showing all income and expenses, and describing how the project met the stated applicant objectives and the criteria below.  The Final Report is due by July 31, 2015.

For information about the Mesa Arts Center visit  For facility details and rental costs/information please click “Renting” under the “About Us” tab.  Please note that the link to the Not-for-Profit Rental Fees schedule can be found in a list below the commercial rates.


  1. Quality of the artistic work to be presented and/or the past artistic work of the applicant organization or its presentations.
  2. Length or scope of the engagement or activity, and any indication of interest or intention to develop an ongoing relationship with the Mesa Arts Center.
  3. Extent to which the project provides new or different experiences to the community, meets a community need, or provides an experience or cultural opportunity in which the community has indicated an interest/need/desire.
  4. Quality and likely impact of any proposed education or outreach programs, or audience development or community engagement activities.
  5. Soundness of the plan for the proposed project and the likelihood of success.  Ability of the organization to meet the stated objectives of the project, as shared by the applicant in the application.

All applicants are encouraged to include audience engagement/audience development activities as part of their project, which will be considered in rating the 4th criteria above.

Please fill out the application form (a fill-in-the-blanks form is available at and provide the required additional documents.  Return the application BY MAIL TO:                               

Creative Economy Fund
Office of the Director
Mesa Arts Center
P.O. Box 1466
Mesa, AZ  85211-1466

OR by email to:


June 4, 2014, 5 - 6 p.m. Grant Workshop - get tips on submitting a competitive grant
Mesa Arts Center, South Studios Conference Room
June 27, 2014 (by 5:00 p.m.)  Application due date
July 7 - July 18, 2014 Applications reviewed by a peer panel
By end of July 2014 Recommendations are reviewed and endorsed by the Museum and Cultural Advisory Board
July 31, 2014 Applicants are notified of the outcome of their proposal
June 30, 2015 Projects must be completed
July 31, 2015 Final Report due
QUESTIONS?  Contact Jean Kaminski at or 480-644-6607.

Arts & Culture Department Staff

Cindy Ornstein
Arts and Culture Director

Rob Schultz
Assistant Arts and Culture Director

Teri Siggins
Administrative Coordinator

Jean Kaminski
Administrative Support Assistant III


Venue Management

idea Museum
Sunnee O'Rork

Arizona Museum of Natural History

Tom Wilson

Mesa Arts Center

Cindy Ornstein
Executive Director

Rob Schultz
Assistant Director, Education & Visual Arts

Randall Vogel
Assistant Director, Theaters & Operations