Composer Angélica Negrón Wins 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize

The Hermitage Artist Retreat, in collaboration with the Greenfield Foundation, has selected innovative composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón as the winner of the 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize, given this year in the artistic discipline of music. Negrón will receive a six-week residency at the Hermitage and a $30,000 commission for a new work, which will have its first public presentation in Sarasota in 2024.

On Monday, January 10th, Angélica Negrón received the news of her recognition via Zoom. 

Jury Chair Terrance McKnight stated, “Angélica Negrón’s music places value in the softest, most vulnerable, and most frequently overlooked instruments in the room. In her scores, even the robots find a pulse. Her compositional insight is the heartbeat of true democracy, and I am thrilled to introduce her to the Hermitage community.”

Born in Puerto Rico, Negrón writes original music for accordions, robotic instruments, toys, and electronics, as well as chamber ensembles and orchestras. She is a founding member of the tropical electronic band Balún, and her music has been performed at the Kennedy Center and the 2016 New York Philharmonic Biennial. Negrón has composed scores for the New York Botanical Gardens (Chorus of the Forest, 2019) and for Opera Philadelphia (The Island We Made, 2020), as well as the documentary films Landfall (2020) and Memories of a Penitent Heart (2016). Additional commissions and premieres of her compositions include works for the LA Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, and New York Philharmonic Project 19 initiative.

“Amidst an extraordinary selection of finalists, Angélica Negrón stood out as an innovative and forward-thinking composer who impressed this year’s jury with her inventive and inspired approach to musical composition,” said Hermitage Artistic Director Andy Sandberg. “Her dedication to her craft embodies the mission of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize — to bring into the world works of art that have a significant impact on the broad as well as the artistic culture of our society. We thank our distinguished jurors for their passion and dedication, and we congratulate all of our brilliant finalists, whom we look forward to welcoming at the Hermitage. We look forward to recognizing Angélica’s work in Sarasota at the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner in April, and subsequently hosting her as a Hermitage Fellow and sharing the first public presentation of her composition in Sarasota in 2024.”

Negrón will be celebrated at the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner on Sunday, April 10th, at 6pm at Michael’s On East in Sarasota. Capacity will be limited to accommodate safe social-distancing practices, and additional health and safety measures are anticipated for this event. For more information about this event, click here.

Read more about the 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize here.

Hermitage February Program Features Broadway Producer Tom Kirdahy

The Hermitage Artist Retreat brings the next installment of its “Artists & Thinkers” series to Longboat Key with “Theater Today: Process & Production,” a conversation with Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Tom Kirdahy (Hadestown; The Inheritance; Little Shop of Horrors).

A champion of new work and a resident of Longboat Key, Kirdahy will speak with fellow Tony Award winner and Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg about the inextricable link between theatrical development and production, and the multi-year creative journey from an idea to production. Following a successful event in 2021 hosted on the Hermitage Beach – part of the Hermitage “Artists & Thinkers” series – Kirdahy and Sandberg will continue their candid conversation in the town of Longboat Key, outdoors on Friday, February 25th at 5:30pm, at the Town Center of Longboat Key, 501 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key, FL 34228. Click here to register.

“I am truly looking forward to continuing this dialogue with my friend and colleague Tom Kirdahy,” said Sandberg. “Tom is a thoughtful and accomplished producer who has shepherded some truly extraordinary plays and musicals to the stage, even amidst the most challenging of circumstances. Moreover, Tom is a true champion of artists and the creative process. He understands and appreciates the importance of early development and collaboration in guiding new work from the page to the stage, and we’re honored to have him in the Hermitage family!”

Kirdahy is a Tony and Olivier Award-winning producer whose projects have spanned Broadway, Off-Broadway, and the West End, as well as national and international tours. Select New York/London credits: Hadestown (8 Tony Awards, including Best New Musical), The Inheritance (Tony Award for Best Play; 11 Tony nominations), Little Shop of Horrors (Drama Desk Award, Best Musical Revival), Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (2 Tony nominations, including Best Revival). Additional Tony nominations: The Visit, Mothers and Sons, After Midnight, Ragtime, and Master Class. He is the recipient of the Robert Whitehead Award for Outstanding Achievement in Commercial Theater Producing. Kirdahy serves on the Broadway League Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. As an attorney, he spent nearly two decades providing free legal services to people living with HIV/AIDS and served for many years on the Executive Committee of the NYC LGBT Center. Graduate Studies: New York University School of Law, NYU CAS.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright and Hermitage Fellow Paula Vogel Presents “Pen to Paper” as Part of “Hermitage @ Booker” Series

Hermitage Fellow, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright, and American Theater Hall of Fame Honoree Paula Vogel returns to the Hermitage to present a community program as part of the “Hermitage @ Booker” series, a collaborative partnership with Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) program, which launched in December 2021 with Hermitage Fellow and jazz musician Luke Stewart. The “Hermitage @ Booker” series features outdoor public programs intended for adults, as well as high-school and college students in the community.

“Pen to Paper with Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Paula Vogel” takes place on Friday, February 11th at 5pm (ET), in the outdoor courtyard at Booker High School where Vogel will lead a writing ‘bake-off’ in which the audience will collectively create and design a short play through writing prompts and exercises.

“We are honored to welcome legendary playwright Paula Vogel back to the Hermitage, where she will be sharing her extraordinary talent as a writer and experience as an educator with the members of our Sarasota community. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Dr. Rachel Shelley and the Booker VPA faculty as we build meaningful connections between some of the nation’s leading artists and our community,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We look forward to introducing more area residents and students to the bold new works and creative journeys of acclaimed Hermitage Fellows from around the world.”

Vogel has taught playwriting for thirty years at Brown University and at the Yale School of Drama. Her plays include How I Learned to Drive, The Long Christmas Ride Home, The Mineola Twins, The Baltimore Waltz, Hot ‘N’ Throbbing, Desdemona, And Baby Makes Seven, The Oldest Profession, A Civil War Christmas, Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq, and Indecent. Vogel has been developing her playwriting memoir How To Bake A Play as part of her Hermitage Residency.

The Hermitage’s 2022 outdoor programs are free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee. “Pen to Paper” is intended for adults, college students, and high-school students. Due to capacity limitations and social distancing, registration is required. Click to register.

Writer and Director Radha Blank Is the Inaugural Recipient of the $35,000 Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA)

“In a theatrical landscape hobbled by COVID, the Hermitage has done something heroic; they have instituted a brand new, financially generous commission for a playwright of demonstrable achievement to draft a new work. It is one of the premier commissions of its kind and could not come at a more auspicious, even urgent time.”
—Doug Wright, Hermitage Major Theater Award Committee

Playwright and director Radha Blank has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the Hermitage Major Theater Award. This national jury-selected prize, newly established by the Hermitage earlier this year with generous support from the Kutya Major Foundation, offers one of the largest non-profit theater commissions in the country. Blank will receive a cash prize of $35,000, as well as a residency at the Hermitage (Sarasota County, Florida) and a developmental workshop in New York. Blank’s critically acclaimed debut feature film, The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix), was awarded the 2020 Sundance Film Festival’s Vanguard Award and the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award. Blank’s play Seed received a Helen Merrill Award, and she has written for the television series Empire (Fox) and Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It (Netflix). Blank is also known to many audiences as RadhaMUSprime, performing her unique brand of hip-hop comedy around the world.

“I am thrilled to receive this kind of support from the theater-making community, and honored to be the first recipient of this awesome award,” said Radha Blank on receiving the Hermitage Major Theater Award. “This recognition is very affirming. This commission answers the question: how can I continue to do my work and not jump into a system that is constantly asking me to conform and change who I am? Having a destination and an actual place and community to create is a gift. I don’t take it lightly. I really appreciate this.”

The Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA) was established this year to recognize a playwright or theater artist with a $35,000 commission to create a new, original, and impactful piece of theater. HMTA winners are nominated and selected by a jury of nationally recognized arts leaders in the field of theater. The inaugural HMTA Award Committee included Doug Wright, Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright, and past president of the Dramatists Guild of America; Leigh Silverman, Tony Award nominee and Obie Award-winning director; and Liesl Tommy, Tony Award nominee and Obie Award-Winning stage and screen director.

“The theater needs Radha’s voice more than ever, especially in the current cultural moment,” said HMTA juror Doug Wright, a past Hermitage Fellow himself.

“Radha has passion and heart, and she crosses so many different genres and traverses so many different mediums,” remarked HMTA juror Leigh Silverman. “At this moment in the theater, we’re all coming out of a time of being frozen in amber. The idea of this award from the Hermitage – and what this offers – is hope, as well as a sense of community, time, and space.

“This is a pure gift of support for Radha and her writing, with no strings attached,” added HMTA juror Liesl Tommy. “It’s an opportunity for Radha to be free in this moment, which is why these kinds of commissions are so important to us as artists.”

Three finalists for the 2021 Hermitage Major Theater Award include Luis Alfaro, an accomplished playwright and MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow; Eisa Davis, an Obie Award-winning multi-disciplinary theater-maker; and Madeleine George, an Obie Award-winning playwright. Each will receive a Hermitage residency, in addition to a cash prize of $1,000.

“Amidst an extraordinary and competitive field of finalists, Radha Blank stood out as an innovative and exciting artist who impressed the award committee with her passionate and inspired vision,” said Andy Sandberg. “While many audiences have come to know Radha through her work on film, our hope is that this opportunity recognizes, inspires, and embraces Radha as an exciting and important voice in the American theater. We thank our brilliant award committee Doug Wright, Leigh Silverman, and Liesl Tommy for their leadership and thoughtfulness, and we congratulate all of our finalists. Luis Alfaro, Eisa Davis, and Madeleine George are exceptional artists of the theater, with bold voices and thrilling ideas. We are excited to welcome all four of these extraordinary talents into the Hermitage family.”

In 2020, Blank was named as one of Variety’s “10 Directors to Watch” and hailed as “a brilliant filmmaker” by The New York Times. Her debut feature film, The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix) was the recipient of multiple prestigious awards and nominations, including recognition for Blank’s writing, directing, and performance. Blank was nominated for the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director and a BAFTA Award for Leading Actress. The Forty-Year-Old Version most recently received its New York City 35mm debut at the Paris Theater, where Blank made history as the first Black woman director showcased in the cinema house’s 75-year history. When not writing for the stage and screen, Blank performs as RadhaMUSprime, whose brand of hip-hop comedy has sold out shows from New York to Norway.

In addition to the $35,000 commission, the recipient of the annual HMTA will receive six weeks of residency at the Hermitage’s historic beachfront campus to develop the new work, in addition to a reading or workshop in a leading arts and cultural center. This year’s commission is expected to receive a development workshop in New York in the fall of 2022.

In the spirit of the Hermitage’s commitment to the arts across multiple disciplines, recipients of the Hermitage Major Theater Award are encouraged to create a commission that directly or indirectly represents the role and impact of art – musical, literary, theatrical, visual, or otherwise – in our culture and society. This distinguished recognition is not an award for an existing work, but rather it is designed as a commission that shall serve as a catalyst and inspiration to a theater artist to create a new, original, and impactful piece of theater.

Further, the prize is intended to bridge the connection between the Hermitage and Sarasota County, where the commission is born, and other leading arts and culture centers around the world, including New York, London, and Chicago – where great theater is frequently developed and presented.

“This award is designed to be transformational for its recipients, providing not only significant funds and recognition, but also invaluable time, space, and inspiration at the Hermitage, as well as an opportunity for these innovative theater-makers to workshop and develop their original ideas,” said Andy Sandberg at a Hermitage announcement event. A director, writer, and Tony Award-winning producer, Sandberg took the helm as Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage in early 2020. “In addition to introducing a new work of theater to the American canon each year, this is an exciting opportunity for the Hermitage to take a further step in supporting artistic development as we offer developmental resources to these extraordinary artists and their new commissions along their journey.”

The Hermitage Major Theater Award is made possible with a generous multi-year gift to the Hermitage from the Kutya Major Foundation.
“Anyone who values and appreciates the arts, across all disciplines, needs to invest in supporting artists in the earliest stages of their creative process — this is what the Hermitage does so well,” remarked Flora Major, founder and trustee of the Kutya Major Foundation. “I hope this new initiative will inspire others who are passionate about the arts to recognize and support the important work that the Hermitage is doing.”

In addition to this newly created commission, the Hermitage Artist Retreat annually awards the prestigious jury-selected Hermitage Greenfield Prize (HGP), a $30,000 commission that rotates each year between the disciplines of music, theater, and visual art. Past recipients in theater have included Aleshea Harris (2021), Martyna Majok (2018), Nilo Cruz (2015), John Guare (2012), and Craig Lucas (2009). 

Hermitage Announces a Full Slate of January and February Programs for the New Year Throughout Sarasota County

The Hermitage Artist Retreat will start the New Year with a full slate of early 2022 programs featuring new and returning Hermitage Fellows, from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel and Beyonce collaborator and soloing band member Lady Jess to interdisciplinary artist Ni’Ja Whitson. The program lineup – presented at outdoor venues throughout Sarasota County including the Hermitage Beach and Selby Gardens Downtown – also includes “Say Their Names,” a partnership with Manasota ASALH to present selections from composer-saxophonist Matthew Evan Taylor, inspired by the fight against anti-Black racism. 

These new programs add to the Hermitage’s previously announced January programs with Tony Award-winning Broadway star Gavin Creel on January 14th and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical theater playwright-composer Michael R. Jackson on January 21st.

“We are thrilled to launch 2022 with an exciting slate of programming that introduces our Gulf Coast community to some of the most extraordinary talents and performers working today,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We are grateful to continue our collaboration with Selby Gardens to present a new program with Lady Jess, a brilliant violinist who has frequently shared the stage with Beyoncé, as well as returning Hermitage Fellow Michael R. Jackson, who won the Pulitzer Prize last year for his musical A Strange Loop. We’re also looking forward to new partnerships with Manasota ASALH (featuring Matthew Evan Taylor) and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast (featuring Ni’Ja Whitson), among other leading arts and cultural institutions in our region. Where else can audiences experience – in the span of a few weeks – works in progress from so many of the world’s greatest artists, alongside theater legends like Paula Vogel and Gavin Creel?!”

In addition, the Hermitage has announced that the January 14th public program on the Hermitage Beach with Gavin Creel will now be presented in partnership with all of the leading theaters in Sarasota County, exemplifying our community’s spirit of collaboration. Creel’s Hermitage residency will be sponsored by Charlie Huisking.

All of these outdoor programs are free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee. Due to capacity limitations and social distancing, registration is required at

Friday, Jan 7 @ 5pm, “Journeys of Identity in Music” with Hermitage Fellows Amir ElSafar and Wang Lu (Live on the Hermitage Beach). Wang Lu’s Hermitage Residency is generously sponsored by Ina Schnell in memory of Susan Brainerd.

Friday, Jan 14 @ 5pm, “Walk on Through” with Hermitage Fellow & Tony Award Winner Gavin Creel (Live on the Hermitage Beach). Gavin Creel’s Hermitage Residency is generously sponsored by Charlie Huisking.

Friday, Jan 21 @ 5:30pm, Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens: “The Work,” with Hermitage Fellow & Pulitzer Prize Winner Michael R. Jackson (Live at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens)

Friday, Jan 28 @ 5pm, “Natural Inspiration,” with Hermitage Fellow Ni’Ja Whitson (Live on the Hermitage Beach). Ni’ja Whitson’s Hermitage Residency is generously sponsored by Ellen Berman and Roy Cohen.

Friday, Feb 11 @ 5pm, “Pen to Paper with Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Paula Vogel,” with Hermitage Fellow Paula Vogel (Live at Booker High School)

Friday, Feb 18 @ 5:30pm, “Say Their Names,” with Hermitage Fellow Matthew Evan Taylor (Live on the Hermitage Beach

Hermitage January 2022 Programs Feature Tony Award Winner Gavin Creel and Pulitzer Prize Winner Michael R. Jackson

The Hermitage Artist Retreat announces new community programs in January with acclaimed theater artists and Hermitage Fellows Gavin Creel and Michael R. Jackson.

On Friday, January 14th at 5pm on the Hermitage Beach, Tony and Olivier Award-winning performer Gavin Creel (Hello, Dolly!, The Book of Mormon, Hair) will share excerpts from his latest passion project. “Walk on Through” is a work in progress inspired by a commission from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Limor Tomer, General Manager of Live Arts). This new piece, still in development, features Creel’s original songs inspired by the sights, sounds, and sense of wonder experienced at the Met.

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer-composer Michael R. Jackson (A Strange Loop, White Girl in Danger) returns to the Hermitage following his beachfront program last season. This time, Jackson puts his unique twist on the popular Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens series with “The Work,” offering candid conversation and samplings of his latest work. This event will be on Friday, January 21st at 5:30pm, presented at Selby Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus.

“We are incredibly excited to be welcoming these two extraordinary theater artists to share their works in progress with our community,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. Sandberg was a producer of the Tony Award-winning revival of Hair, for which Creel received a Tony nomination as Best Lead Actor. “Many know Gavin as one of the great performers of our generation, and he is here at the Hermitage as a writer and creator, developing an exciting new piece inspired by a commission from our friends at the Met. And for those who don’t know the incredible Michael R. Jackson, he is truly one of the most exciting voices in the American theater today, and we’re looking forward to welcoming him back to the Gulf Coast!”

These outdoor programs are free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee. Due to capacity limitations and social distancing, registration is required at


The Hermitage Raises More Than $225,000 at 2021 Artful Lobster – A Record-Breaking Celebration!

The Hermitage Artist Retreat raised more than $225,000 at the 2021 Artful Lobster luncheon on November 13. Now in its thirteenth year, the Artful Lobster raises valuable funds for the Hermitage’s renowned artist residency program and community programming initiatives. Amidst limited capacity and added safety precautions, 200 guests attended the sold-out event, which took place outdoors beneath a large tent on the Hermitage’s historic beachfront campus and was co-chaired by Charlie Huisking and Charlotte Perret, with Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg as master of ceremonies. Michael’s On East served a plentiful barbecue and much-heralded lobster feast.

Dorothy Lawson, a Hermitage Fellow and founding cellist and artistic director of the genre-bending string quartet ETHEL, headlined the event and riveted the audience with her virtuosic cello performance and tales of her time at the Hermitage. She was introduced by popular radio personality Terrance McKnight, evening host of WQXR New York Public Radio and a member of the Hermitage National Curatorial Council. Lawson played an original song from a full-length musical experience that she and her fellow ETHEL musicians created during their Hermitage residency. To celebrate the Hermitage’s free community programs and collaborations, Raleigh Mosely II, a friend of the Hermitage and frequent performer with the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, powerfully delivered an original song written by musical theater composer and Hermitage Fellow Rona Siddiqui. Following lunch, Lawson returned to the stage to perform her interpretation of a piece by Bach, which she dedicated to the memory of the late Susan Brainerd, a recent Hermitage trustee who sponsored Lawson’s last visit to the Hermitage earlier this year.

“When Bach composed his cello suites, nobody was writing that kind of music – it was brand new,” said Terrance McKnight as he introduced Lawson and shared his perspective on the role of the Hermitage. “Legendary artists like Bach composed some of the music we have today because of a benefactor. This is such an important conversation to have today because the work that you all are doing by supporting the Hermitage is inspiring these artists.”

“Great music, great art, great theater, great literature, great television – none of this happens without great artists,” added Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Sandberg. “We are thankful to all who attended or supported this year’s festivities. The generous outpouring of support for the work we are doing at the Hermitage is a demonstration of our community’s extraordinary commitment to the arts and the creative process.”

Sponsors and partners for the 2021 Artful Lobster include Gulf Coast Community Foundation, CHUBB, Key Agency, Herald-Tribune/LOCALiQ, and Sarasota Magazine. A full list of this year’s sponsors, benefactors, and partners can be found at

Hermitage Receives $50,000 Grant from Community Foundation of Sarasota County

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has awarded the Hermitage Artist Retreat a $50,000 Strategic Partnership Grant to support the Hermitage’s nationally renowned artist residency program and, for the fifth consecutive season, to serve as the lead Community Sponsor of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner and Celebration in April of 2022.

The Hermitage Greenfield Prize is a groundbreaking partnership between the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation. This prestigious national prize seeks to bring into the world works of art that will have a significant impact on the broad as well as the artistic landscape. 2022 will mark the fourteenth year of this annual jury-selected award, with the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner scheduled for Sunday, April 10, at Michael’s On East in Sarasota.

The Hermitage Greenfield Prize includes a six-week Hermitage residency and a $30,000 commission to create an original work. The distinguished honor rotates annually among music, theater, and visual art. The 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize was awarded to playwright Aleshea Harris, with her commission set to premiere in 2023. The 2022 prize will be awarded to an artist in the discipline of music.

In addition, the Community Foundation’s sponsorship will help to support the Hermitage’s artist residency program. Each year, the Hermitage invites accomplished and diverse artists across multiple disciplines for residencies on its beachfront campus. Hermitage Fellows include fourteen Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur ‘Genius’ and Guggenheim Fellows, Poets Laureate, and dozens of Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar winners and nominees. Works created and developed at the Hermitage have been presented at renowned theaters, concert halls, and galleries throughout the world. Artists are nominated for residencies by the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council, which is comprised of artistic leaders from some of the most highly regarded cultural institutions across the globe.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for their continued support and generosity,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “This is now the Community Foundation’s fifth consecutive year as ‘Grand Sponsor’ of the Prize Dinner and the surrounding events celebrating this recognition. Their continued partnership makes a tremendous difference as the Hermitage Greenfield Prize seeks to bring together Sarasota residents for a unique opportunity to see the creation of a visionary new work – born right here on Manasota Key – before it goes on to future life throughout the world. We are also honored that, with this grant, the Community Foundation continues to champion our core artist residency program, recognizing the Hermitage’s commitment to supporting artists in their creative process, and believing in the power of the arts to make a difference.”