Guide to Visiting the Mesa Arts Center | Visit Mesa

Mesa Arts Center

One of Mesa’s top rated TripAdvisor attractions, the multifunctional Mesa Arts Center is the epicenter of art and culture in the Sonoran Desert.

The Mesa Arts Center is home to four performance theaters — Ikeda Theater, Piper Repertory Theater, Farnsworth Studio Theater and the Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse — and 14 art studios, as well as five exhibition galleries as part of the Mesa Contemporary Arts (MCA) Museum. Arizona’s largest arts center is one of Mesa’s top family-friendly attractions, thanks to its diverse portfolio of life performances, art exhibitions and art classes that educate and entertain visitors of all ages.

Shows, Concerts & Performances

Throughout the year, the Mesa Arts Center hosts a sweeping portfolio of acclaimed national touring acts ranging from classical concerts to full Broadway productions, as well as comedy shows, dance productions and inspirational speakers. Popular acts such as the Blue Man Group, Penn and Teller and Kristin Chenoweth have all entertained audiences on the Mesa Arts Center stages.

Several local, Mesa-based arts organizations and companies maintain a residency at the Mesa Arts Center, producing and performing plays, concerts and other acts throughout the year. Resident companies include East Valley Children's Theatre, Mesa Encore Theatre, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Sonoran Desert Chorale, Southwest Shakespeare Company and Symphony of the Southwest, as well as Ballet Etudes, whose annual performance of the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker, delights families each holiday season.

The interior of the Ikeda Theater at the Mesa Arts Center.

Live performances are hosted in one of the Center’s four theaters, ranging from the grand, proscenium-style, nearly-1,600-seat Ikeda Theater to the intimate, 98-seat Farnsworth Studio Theater. The 200-seat Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse positions seats on a steep incline to provide unobstructed sightlines of the stage, and the Virgina G Piper Repertory Theater — another proscenium theater — features 550 seats that are designed to bring the audience as close as possible to the stage.

Click here to view the full calendar of upcoming performances at the Mesa Arts Center. For more performances in and around Mesa, view our events calendar.

Events & Festivals

In addition to touring performances and international acts, the Mesa Arts Center also hosts a series of community events and festivals throughout the year.

Out to Lunch Concert Series

This weekly concert series features mid-day performances by local and touring musicians, who perform for free on an outdoor stage. Grab a seat or bring your own folding chairs or blankets and enjoy the music as you snack on lunch items available for purchase at the event.

Dia de los Muertos

Each fall, the Mesa Arts Center hosts the free-to-attend Dia de los Muertos Festival which honors the annual Mexican holiday with several days of live performances, traditional dances, a market, a collection of custom altars, and over a dozen food vendors, in addition to sensory-friendly activities and experiences.

Emerge Festival

Explore the future of food and its role in our environmental challenges at the Emerge Festival, November 19, 2022. Discover and brainstorm revolutionary new solutions for food production, distribution and consumption, as well as opportunities for improved diversity, equity and inclusion within the culinary industry.

Spark Youth Media Festival

Hosted jointly between the Mesa Arts Center and the MIX Center, the inaugural Spark Youth Media Festival in March 2023 will showcase and celebrate innovative work from some of the region’s brightest young minds.

For a full list of upcoming special events at the Mesa Arts Center, click here.

Mesa Contemporary Arts (MCA) Museum & Exhibitions

Named “Best Art Museum” in 2020 by the Phoenix New Times and one of Mesa’s must-visit museums, the free-to-visit Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum (MCA) is a 5,500-square-foot space comprised of five exhibition galleries located in the northwest portion of the Mesa Arts Center complex. The MCA hosts rotating art exhibitions that display the work of contemporary artists in both group and solo shows that celebrate the diversity of the local, national, and international arts community.

A person standing on a balcony in front of large mural at the Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, AZ.

Past exhibitions have featured the work of artists such as Alex Grey and Allyson Grey, “The Godfather of Street Art,” Ron English, and popular Los Angeles-based artist El Mac, whose captivating, 35-foot mural can still be viewed in the museum’s courtyard.

Current Exhibitions

For a full list of current exhibitions, click here.

Museum Admission & Hours

Admission to the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum is free and the museum is open:

  • Tue - Sat: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Sun: Noon - 5 p.m.

The museum is closed on Mondays and on major holidays such as Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Art Classes

The Mesa Arts Center’s commitment to the arts extends far beyond just presenting performances and exhibitions. The Center’s 14 studio spaces are custom designed to accommodate workshops and continuing education programs in a variety of artistic disciplines, including acting, dance, ceramics, printmaking, metal sculpture, glassblowing and more.

To learn more about art classes and workshops at the Mesa Arts Center, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Mesa Arts Center?

The Mesa Arts Center and Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum are located in the heart of downtown Mesa at 1 E Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85201.

How much does the Mesa Arts Center cost?

Tickets to performances at the Mesa Arts Center vary by show and are subject to various fees and taxes. To view a full breakdown of applicable fees and taxes based on ticket prices, click here.

Admission to the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum is free.

Where do you park for Mesa Arts Center?

In addition to an on-site parking lot (115 W 1st Avenue) and ample street parking around the area, there are several lots and garages in close proximity to the Mesa Arts Center. These include the Sirrine Parking Garage (30 S Sirrine Street), Gold Lot (38 S Drew Street) and Mesa City Plaza (20 E Main Street) — all within 800 feet or less from the Center.

What else is there to do nearby the Mesa Arts Center and Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum?

The Mesa Arts Center and Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum are conveniently located in the heart of downtown Mesa and within walking distance to many local shops, restaurants, bars and attractions. Popular downtown attractions include the Arizona Museum of Natural History, i.d.e.a. Museum, and Nile Theater.