Mary Ann Dean, Executive Director OSF
Mary Ann Dean has been providing a strong business approach to Orlando’s theatre community for 30 years. After 12 years as Executive Director of Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Dean will be entering into a well-deserved retirement in June.
In 1973, Dean joined the Civic Theatre Guild as an effort to get involved in the community. By 1980 she was elected General Manager of the Civic Theatre. “I had no theatre background, except as an audience member and found my niche in concentrating on the business side,” says Dean.
Under Dean’s direction, from 1980 to 1994, the Civic grew into one of the largest community theatres in the country with a 3-theatre space (now home to Orlando Repertory), an active children’s series, and a larger staff. “I’m a prime example of on-the-job training!” Dean says.
Due to her tremendous success, Dean was brought in as Executive Director to the Shakespeare Festival in 1994. She, along with Artistic Director Jim Helsinger, pulled the company out of debt in 1996 and brought theatre back to Loch Haven Park in 2001 in a 50,000 sq. ft. indoor complex with three theatres and a nine-show season. “That’s phenomenal growth. It’s a sign of Mary Ann’s integrity and the belief in that integrity from the board, our patrons, and our donors,” boasts Helsinger. “She always brings a cheerful attitude and level head to everything she does.”
Thanks to Dean’s efforts, many Orlando theatre groups are thriving. “There’s not a theatre group in town that hasn’t been affected by Mary Ann’s positive, either by providing performance space or giving advice on how to grow their business,” says Helsinger.
“Mary Ann is well-known and respected throughout Orlando and the state of Florida. She is dedicated, loyal, and endlessly hardworking,” says Rita Lowndes, long-time friend. “While losing her presents a challenge, the new director will have the benefit of working from the solid foundation built by Mary Ann.”
“It has been gratifying to watch how the arts community matured over 30 years,” says Dean. Despite her retirement, Dean plans to remain involved in Orlando theatre as a consultant and patron.
originally published in the May-June 2006 issue of Orlando Arts magazine.