Director has big ideas to boost Mesa Arts Center - East Valley Tribune: News

Director has big ideas to boost Mesa Arts Center

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Posted: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 9:30 pm | Updated: 10:08 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A new restaurant next to the Mesa Arts Center. Free admission to Mesa museums on Sundays. An annual arts and cultural festival. Mesa Arts Center director Johann Zietsman threw out some big ideas Wednesday for the future of the arts in Mesa.

Zietsman has been at the helm of the center for about 10 months, and predicted a bright future for the facility and the general downtown area.

Lately, Zietsman said, he has been taking his message on the road, visiting with Rotary clubs and women's groups to talk about his mission of arts education, entertainment and engagement.

One of the biggest issues the program will face in the coming months will be improving access to the center for smaller community arts groups, Zietsman said.

"We need to address this very quickly," he said, "or it could be one part of the negative perceptions."

Zietsman also discussed some new initiatives the department will undertake this fall:

"Free Sundays," which would be sponsored by the Target corporation and allow free admission to the city's three downtown museums on Sundays.

"Dinner and a Show," which partnered with local restaurants to get a meal and a show with one ticket. Zietsman said they sold 213 packages in the first season and will continue to find participating restaurants.

Corporate team-building programs in places such as the ceramics studio, which would bring in business people to partake in activities to improve leadership.

"MAC Fest" is still in the idea phase, but would bring an annual arts and cultural festival to the downtown area and incorporate many players, such as the Mesa Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Mesa Association. Zietsman said he hears from local artists that they do not have an outlet to sell their goods in the city.

More restaurants in the downtown areas. Zietsman said he worked closely with the city recently to attract a developer to a site just next to the MAC. He predicted more restaurants and possibly talk of a Seattle-based coffee corporation.

Zietsman said that overall, his experience working in tangent with the city government has been positive. He said arts people usually do not take part in city business like solid waste and public safety, but that the MAC's unique role keeps it in the discussion.

"We work with our challenges directly," he said. "The city owns this baby, and it's not an easy baby to own."

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