Two well-known Palm Springs cultural professionals, Ann Sheffer and Will Dean, have been named to the board of directors for the nonprofit Dezart Performs theatre company of Palm Springs significantly expanding the respected ensemble’s base of support as it heads into planning for its 2020 / 2021 season, a combination of virtual and live performances in light of COVID-era protocols.
“During this most challenging time, we are especially honored that two such widely respected members of the community have stepped up to help guide us during this challenging period,” said Clark Dugger, Board President for Dezart Performs. “We welcome Ann Sheffer and Will Dean to bring new perspectives and a new level of diversity to our Board.”
A resident of Palm Springs since 2005, Sheffer currently serves as Chair of the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission, as honorary trustee of the Palm Springs Art Museum, and on the boards of the Palm Springs Cultural Center, and the Desert AIDS Project. She was previously a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities from 1993 to 2000, appointed by President Bill Clinton. From 2001 to 2012 Sheffer served on the board of Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America, and as Chair of its Arts Action Fund and PAC, and is now an Emeritus board member. Sheffer received her undergraduate degree in Theater and French from Smith College, a MA in Theatre Administration from Tufts University and an MBA from the University of Washington. She is married to William L. Scheffler, Esq. and has six children and six grandchildren (several of whom want to be actresses.)
“Theatre is the soul and voice of a community,” said Sheffer. “I have always been impressed with the ability of Dezart Performs to express just the right balance of timely themes. Never has their intuitive sense of stagecraft been more needed than right now. It will help us get past this challenging time and prepare us for a better tomorrow.”
A 13-year resident of Palm Springs, Dean moved to the desert in late 2007 to work as a community editor with The Desert Sun. His primary duties were guiding and editing the work of a small group of reporters covering Palm Springs and Cathedral City. Prior to the move, he completed a rewarding Knight Editing Fellowship at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In 2012, Dean created with and for The Desert Sun a monthly LGBTQ news and culture magazine featuring the Coachella Valley and Southern California region: Desert Outlook, which was the first LGBTQ publication for the USA TODAY Network, was published for six years. In June 2018, Dean joined the staff of the Desert Healthcare District and Foundation as the director of communications and marketing. That same year, he became involved with a burgeoning nonprofit organization, Brothers of the Desert, a 501(c)(3) comprised of black gay men who live in the Coachella Valley. Earlier this year, Will was elected one of nine members of the Brothers of the Desert’s inaugural board.
“I am honored and excited to join the Dezart Performs board. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of sitting in the audience at Dezart productions and marveling at the level of passion, dedication and talent the company presents,” said Dean. “Dezart Performs expands the concept of community theater, and I get to be a part of that! While Dezart productions are clearly for Coachella Valley audiences, each season spotlights entertaining, thought-provoking, universal stories that also reflect our diverse human community.”
Dezart Performs, one of the Coachella Valley’s preeminent theatre companies, recognizes that the performing arts enrich the life and culture of a community, promote greater understanding and provoke insightful discussion. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit theatre company, its mission is to provide an artistic home for bold and cutting–edge plays, creating an atmosphere of artistic growth for actors, writers, and directors who uniquely contribute to the diverse theatrical environment in the Coachella Valley.