Mesa is trying to boost its downtown’s economy while bolstering its image as a center of arts and culture by allowing certain nonprofits to rent the Mesa Arts Center at a reduced rate.
The city is extending its effort after testing the concept for a year and estimating organizations that got the discount brought an additional 44,000 patrons to the MAC, said Cindy Ornstein, Mesa’s arts and culture director.
The Creative Economic Fund is open to nonprofit arts organizations that want to use the MAC’s various spaces for concerts, theater productions, festivals, exhibits, classes and interactive experiences. Ornstein said it should also help organizations grow by reducing their cost and increasing their exposure to the public.
“The timing is excellent because nonprofit arts organizations do have greater challenges and there isn’t as much public funding at the state level, so there is a need,” Ornstein said.
Mesa will discount up to $25,000 of rent per year in total, with a maximum of $5,000 per group. Mesa reduced rents for 12 groups in the first year, with reductions of $240 to $5,000.
Mesa hopes the arrangement will help the relatively young arts center become more established. The MAC was the site of a February Republican presidential primary debate hosted by CNN, leading to several days of national media exposure. Ornstein said that generated buzz for the center, but its staff has an ongoing effort to promote it.
“The Mesa Arts Center is only 7 years old, so there was a natural progression of people becoming aware of the spaces here for events. Therefore you’re going to have a growth in interest,” she said. “I really think people who use the facility want to come back and use it again.”
With various available components and spaces within the complex, the MAC hosts 900 theater-days a year, up from about 600 just a few years ago. The MAC took in $100,000 more in rental revenue than anticipated this year as bookings have beat expectations, Ornstein said.
The Creative Arts Fund is open to professional and non-professional organizations. The deadline to apply for the program’s second year is June 15. Applications are available at mesaaz.gov/artsculture.
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