Mesa has chosen a new arts and culture director who has an extensive background running museums and a wide variety of cultural events.
Cindy Ornstein will begin her Mesa job July 6 after 10 years as head of the Flint Cultural Center Corporation. That 33-acre center included Michigan’s largest planetarium, a history museum, automotive gallery and performance arts programs.
Ornstein was selected among more than 225 applicants in a nationwide search. She was chosen because she’s run the kinds of cultural offerings Mesa has, said Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh, also a member of the city’s Museum and Cultural Advisory Board.
Mesa keys on Michigan woman for arts post
“She’s got significant experience in each of the subject areas that she has to manage, and you don’t find that very often,” Kavanaugh said.
Mesa announced the selection Tuesday. The city offered Ornstein the post after she was in Mesa last week to be interviewed by a community panel, city officials, and members of the arts and culture community.
Mesa’s arts and culture director oversees the 7-acre Mesa Arts Center and its four theaters, 14 studios and five art galleries. The job includes oversight of citywide cultural offerings and the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the Arizona Museum for Youth.
Ornstein will likely begin by reaching out to arts organizations to ensure Mesa is doing the kinds of programs they’re interested in, said Kari Kent, deputy city manager and acting arts and culture director. The city’s cultural efforts have grown in recent years, Kent said, and Mesa is looking to further promote the MAC as a national and international venue.
“We really see this as part of our regional, statewide effort to continue to bring people to the downtown and contribute to our economic development activities and quality of life,” Kent said.
Ornstein also held high-level positions at the Allentown Art Museum and the Mayfair Festival of the Arts, both in Pennsylvania. Ornstein’s other experience includes corporate communications, advertising copywriting, journalist, theater actor and director.
She will replace Johann Zietsman, who left late last year for a job in Calgary, Canada.