The Main Street Prototyping Festival is a project that will invite the community to dream and design ideas to build connections and make downtown Mesa more vibrant.


The City of Mesa has begun a series of thoughtful and connected activities that seek to transform Mesa's downtown and public spaces by involving residents in discovering and designing the heart of our city.  One new aspect of this creative placemaking initiative, led by Mesa Arts Center, is Mesa’s Main Street Prototyping Festival.


Prototyping: (noun) to create and test an experimental model of a new idea or object.


Prototyping public space is a way of involving a range of people (such as creatives, designers, builders and artists) to come up with possible solutions to community needs in a physical space.


The Main Street Prototyping Festival asks residents, artists, and urban planners to dream, design ideas and discover a more welcoming, diverse and connected downtown Mesa.


Main Street Prototyping Festival applicants submit proposals to create temporary projects – from gathering places to pathways, from games to performances to interactive artwork – that activate public space and engage the community toward enhancing connectivity and vibrancy in Downtown Mesa. The temporary design installations (prototypes) will be showcased in a two-day festival in November 10th & 11th 2017 and residents will be invited to vote for their favorites.


Prototyping: (noun) to create and test an experimental model of a new idea or object.


The Main Street Prototyping Festival is led by a collaborative team made up of representatives from the City of Mesa, Downtown Mesa Association (DMA), Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO), LISC Phoenix and Mesa Arts Center (MAC).


Out of the submissions received, 20-25 proposals will be accepted. The prototypes will turn Downtown Mesa into a creative playground—a place for interacting, sharing ideas and engaging in new ways. Visitors will have opportunities to provide feedback and vote on their favorite ideas.


Installations will activate Main Street public spaces from Country Club Dr. to Sirrine, and between 1st Ave & 1st Street, in the heart of Mesa. The event will allow pedestrians to experience, explore, and interact with the prototype installations. It is hoped that the community’s favorite ideas can be moved forward for longer-term prototyping, and possible permanent installations of select projects, in the future.


Selected submissions will receive a stipend of $1,000-$3,000 to support their project, which will be displayed for public interaction during the 2-day Festival, Friday - Saturday, November 10-11, 2017. The festival will also include outdoor performances and food.






  • Actively engage the local community in planning and shaping the future of downtown.
  • Increase the number of people who have a sense of ownership in downtown.



  • Build strong relationships within and between the South of Broadway communities and downtown.
  • Seek, communicate and welcome the involvement and participation of people from diverse backgrounds, ages and cultures.



  • Further develop Downtown Mesa as an arts-centered, friendly and innovative place with an increasingly exciting urban center.
  • Create an interactive festival with exciting prototypes and extraordinary experiences that inspire community participation and feedback.

Who can apply?

We are seeking proposals from all types of disciplines, perspectives and areas of passion to submit prototype ideas to make Downtown Mesa’s public spaces more interactive and connected. This opportunity is not limited to artists, architects, or designers, but to all who are interested, and anyone with a great idea is encouraged to apply. Applicants can recruit team members with various skills needed to realize their concept, and can apply as an individual or a team.


***NEW APPLICATION EXTENSION deadline is February 20, 2017***



From concept to creation, each project must align with the criteria to be considered for selection. Proposals must create a sense of community, be engaging and feasible (both to be built or performed, and to provide and withstand interactivity and engagement over a two-day event).


  1. Sense of Community
  • Enhances the character of the surrounding communities and environment.
  • Project reflects that the applicant has considered and responded to community input. 
  • Demonstrates innovative ways people can interact, or could interact, with one another in Downtown Mesa.
  • Project activates downtown. 


  1. Engaging
  • Increases community's desire to spend time in downtown.
  • Encourages a visitor to come more frequently and to stay longer.
  • Draws and activates a diverse audience.
  • Alters people’s interaction with downtown and each other.


  1. Sustainable
  • Project can be maintained over the specified duration.
  • Project is able to withstand an urban environment and various weather conditions.
  • Concept is attractive and innovative.
  • Applicant provides evidence of capacity (individually or as a team) to implement proposed concept.