February and March Programs Announced

The Hermitage Artist Retreat (Sarasota County, Florida) today announced new programs for February and March of 2023. These events will be presented on the Hermitage’s historic beachfront campus on Manasota Key and throughout Sarasota County. Hermitage programs introduce world-renowned artists to Florida’s Gulf Coast community for candid and engaging conversations, musical performances, play readings, work-in-process showings, and educational opportunities for students and adults.   

Newly announced February and March programs include continuing partnerships with ASALH (Association for the Study of African-American Life and History), Asolo Repertory Theatre, and the Town of Longboat Key, among others. New partnerships include a collaboration with Venice Symphony and the Pops Orchestra, as well as Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center. Featured artists and performers include Hermitage Major Theater Award winner Madeleine George, Tony and Olivier Award-winning producer Tom Kirdahy, Hermitage Prize in Composition at the Aspen Music Festival and School recipient Sofía Rocha, multidisciplinary artist Shannon Finnegan, acclaimed pianist and composer Conrad Tao, acclaimed author Daniel Gumbiner, award-winning theater maker Don Nguyen, groundbreaking jazz vocalist Fay Victor, playwright and screenwriter Stacey Rose, percussionist Lesley Mok, performer and teaching artist Tamara Anderson, and internationally exhibited visual artist B. Ingrid Olson

The newly announced programs in February and March begin with “The Art of Producing,” part of the Hermitage “Artists and Thinkers” series and the third in a cycle of popular conversations with Tony and Olivier Award-winning producer Tom Kirdahy. Kirdahy is great champion of new work and a friend to the Hermitage. This event is presented in collaboration with the Town of Longboat Key, where Mr. Kirdahy resides part of the year, as well as Asolo Repertory Theater where his work was recently seen on stage with Hood: A Robinhood Musical. This candid conversation between Kirdahy and fellow Tony Award winner Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage, will offer insight into the often-hidden role a producer plays in bringing shows to life on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and London’s West End, as well as the touring and regional market. Presented at Longboat Key’s Bayfront Park as the sun sets over Sarasota Bay on Friday, February 3 at 5pm. 

“Mastering the Monologue,” with theater maker Don Nguyen, is a masterclass on the often-tricky task of writing and performing a monologue. Presented in collaboration with New College of Florida on Friday, February 17 at 5pm, this intimate engagement at the New College campus in Sarasota provides a rare opportunity to observe both the performance of theatrical text and a dissection of its inner workings. A recipient of the New York Stage and Film Founder’s Award, Don Nguyenis a multifaceted artist whose plays are “intriguing and empathetic” (Seattle Times) with “a genuine sweetness” (The New York Times).

“Jazz and Theater: Keeping the Beat” reunites the Hermitage with the Manasota chapter of ASALH at the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center to present Jazz vocalist Fay Victor and playwright Stacey Rose. Presented at Fogartyville’s hybrid indoor-outdoor space on Thursday February 23 at 5pm, this program combines the unparalleled stylings of Fay Victor with the biting wit of Stacey Rose. With her scat stylings recognized by The New York Times as “her own hybrid of song and spoken word,” Fay Victor will share improvisatory work and speak about her career as a musical artist breaking boundaries. With a focus on “life as the other,” playwright and screenwriter Stacey Rose’s work has been seen on stages and screens across the United States including Barrington Stage, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York, and Fox’s 9-1-1.  

On Thursday, March 2 at 5:30pm, Tamara Anderson, Lesley Mok, and B. Ingrid Olson put the Hermitage’s multidisciplinary mission on display with “Tell and Show: Art and Performance Expressing Identity.” Working across different mediums but all using material from their own lives to inform the substance of their craft, each will share work and discuss their artistic process. Tamara Anderson has been seen on stage and screen and celebrated for her charm, humor, and impressive vocals. Lesley Mok’s innovative and dynamic compositions have been performed by such leading ensembles as the International Contemporary Ensemble, Metropolis Ensemble, and JACK Quartet. Visual artist B. Ingrid Olson’s works have been exhibited around the world including the MoMa in New York, Harvard’s Carpenter Center, the Aspen Art Museum, and i8 Gallery in Reykjavík.

Hermitage Major Theater Award Winner Madeleine George has a gift for delivering a powerful message in a joyous package, which she will speak about with Hermitage audiences in “Comedy and Community” on Friday, March 10 at 5:30pm. Like her work on Hulu’s hit television series “Only Murders in the Building,” or her plays Hurricane Diane and the Pulitzer Prize finalist The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence, her commission-in-process promises to tackle cultural and systemic mores all in the high stakes world of amateur bowling. With her unique blend of comedy and heart, George will share prior work and discuss her goals for the new HMTA commission, as well as how she hopes it will help to build and enhance a sense of community.

Sofía Rocha, the 2022 recipient of the Hermitage Prize in Composition presented at the Aspen Music Festival and School, shares her original musical compositions as part of the Hermitage “Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” series in “Making Musical Waves.” Rocha, no stranger to Florida having grown up in Naples, has studied and presented work across the United States with noted ensembles such as JACK Quartet, DeCoda, loadbang, and Brentano String Quartet, among others. For this musical program on Thursday, March 16 at 6:30pm, the Hermitage is partnering with the Venice Symphony and the Pops Orchestra to offer live performances of this next-generation composer’s nuanced and evocative work, all with unique insights from the creator, set against the backdrop of the botanical gardens. This season of “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” is sponsored in part by Scene Magazine.     

Nearly all Hermitage programs are free and open to the public (with a $5/person registration fee), offering Gulf Coast audiences a rare chance to engage and interact with some of the world’s leading talent. Due to capacity limitations and social distancing, registration is required at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

January 2023 Programs

Newly announced January programs include ongoing partnerships with Bookstore1 and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, among others. Featured artists and performers sharing their work include author of Breath Better Spent: Living Black Girlhood DaMaris B. Hill, composer and performer Molly Joyce, interdisciplinary visual artist Kenneth Tam, soloing violinist in pop superstar Beyoncé’s band Lady Jess, playwright Terry Guest returning to the Hermitage after an extended run at Urbanite Theater and a sold-out showing in a previous “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” appearance, author of critically acclaimed story collections and novels Diane Cook, playwright and director Kareem Fahmy, and 2022 Hermitage Major Theater Award-winner Shariffa Ali.  

The newly announced programs in the Hermitage’s 20th Anniversary Season pick up on Friday, January 6th, 2023 at 5pm on the Hermitage Beach with “Distinction and Unity.” Featuring three inventive artists working in three different fields, this cross disciplinary conversation spans literature, music, and visual art. Visual artist Kenneth Tam’s work focuses on ritual and reframing masculinity with a self-described “strain of absurdity and awkward humor.” Author DaMaris B. Hill’s latest work has been called “urgent” and “luminous” by Publisher’s Weekly, while composer and performer Molly Joyce has been described as one of the “most versatile, prolific, and intriguing composers working under the vast new-music dome” by The Washington Post

On Thursday, January 12th at 5pm, the previously announced “Violin and Voice,” cancelled in October due to Hurricane Ian, will be reborn on the Hermitage Beach. Combining the music of Lady Jess, violinist, arts leader, and frequent Beyoncé collaborator with the poignant and humorous words of award-winning playwright Terry Guest, this program paints a picture of the experience these two leading artists have living and making work in the United States and around the world. Presented as the sun sets on the Hermitage Beach, don’t miss the chance to meet these two remarkable artists as they create the works of tomorrow.  

The Hermitage returns to Bookstore1 on Friday, January 20th at 6pm where Hermitage Fellow Diane Cook presents a program focused on her collection of stories, Man V. Nature. The author’s debut work garnered substantial critical attention, making the short list for the Guardian First Book Award, the Believer Book Award, the PEN/Hemingway award, and the Los Angeles Times Award for First Fiction. Hear the author read selections of the work and discuss the different considerations when creating a story collection versus a novel, which she has since published to critical acclaim (shortlisted for the Booker Prize in Fiction). 

This season of the Hermitage’s “Artists and Thinkers” online series begins with “Kareem Fahmy’s Distinct Society” on Monday, January 23rd at 5pm ET. In the lead-up to its world premiere with Pioneer Theater in Salt Lake City, Fahmy’s play tells the story of a sleepy library that straddles the U.S.-Canada border as it becomes an unlikely crucible for five people all grappling with the “Muslim ban” in various ways. Dive into the literary, historical, and cultural considerations that influenced the writer as well as the characters and what examining their actions reveals about our own humanity. 

The popular “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” series continues on Thursday, January 26th at 5pm with 2022 Hermitage Major Theater Award Winner Shariffa Ali. This incredible theater maker hailing from South Africa is joined by singer, collaborator, and Ali’s dear friend Vuyo Sotashe to share insights into the plan for her new commission. Still in progress, the work is centered on small-town South Africa where a middle school choir, their principal, and their parents conspire to disguise the town’s most beloved singer as a girl in order to have him sing as a female soloist in a national competition. Learn about the origin for this commission in its early stages, hear text and songs that could influence the story, and get to know the theater-makers creating the work. The Hermitage Major Theater Award is made possible with generous support from Flora Major and the Kutya Major Foundation.

2022 Artful Lobster Raises a Record-Breaking $265,000

The Hermitage Artist Retreat raised more than $265,000 at the 2022 Hermitage Artful Lobster luncheon on Saturday, November 12. Now in its fourteenth year and this year marking the 20thAnniversary Season of the organization, this annual event raises valuable funds for the Hermitage’s renowned artist residency program and expanded community programming initiatives. Proceeds from this year’s benefit will also be used to support campus repairs following the impact of Hurricane Ian. Over 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 Maryann Casey and Elizabeth Moore, with Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg as master of ceremonies. Michael’s On East served a plentiful barbeque and much-heralded lobster feast.

Hermitage Fellow and acclaimed musical composer Adam Gwon headlined the event. A recipient of the Kleban Award, the Fred Ebb Award, the Richard Rodgers Award, and the Frederick Loewe Award, among others, Adam Gwon’s work has been performed on six continents and across the United States at venues such as Roundabout Theatre, Signature Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and more. Gwon’s performance featured songs from his hit musical Scotland PA, which was written partly at the Hermitage, among other pieces. Gwon’s music was performed by the composer himself, along with accomplished vocalists Martina Long and Brandon Wardell. The event also featured an inspiring performance from Reggie Harris, a returning Hermitage alumnus, remarkably gifted musician and storyteller, and pillar of the international folk music scene for more than 40 years with his music regularly topping the folk charts. His skill and charm deliver a message of joy, unity, tolerance, and peace through the powerful medium of live music. 

“Great music, great art, great theater, great literature, great dance, great television – none of this happens without great artists,” noted Andy 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.” Sandberg added that the proceeds from this year’s Artful Lobster will also support vital repairs to the Hermitage buildings and grounds following the impact of Hurricane Ian.

Sponsors and partners for the 2022 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 here.

Hermitage Presents First “Cross Arts Collaborative” Program Nov. 30

The Hermitage Artist Retreat will present a showcase of new work created during the inaugural year of the Hermitage Cross Arts Collaborative. Made possible with generous support from the Koski Family Foundation, this new initiative is designed to give performers and company members from leading Sarasota arts organizations a chance to expand their artistic practice from ‘performer’ to ‘creator.’ The goal of the Cross Arts Collaborative is to inspire and encourage generative work created by some of the best and brightest performers in our vibrant performing arts community. Nominated by their respective ‘host’ organizations in collaboration with Emily Mann, long-tenured Artistic Director of the McCarter Theatre Center and Emeritus member of the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council, Florida Studio Theatre’s Tsebiyah Mishael Derry and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s Derric Gobourne Jr. spent two weeks on the historic beachfront campus of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, developing their proposals to create new work. The resulting community program, “Cross Arts Collaborative: New Voices and New Work,” will be held on Wednesday November 30 at 5pm ET on the Rooftop Terrace at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s downtown Sarasota venue. The hour-long outdoor event will feature both of these remarkable performers and creators sharing excerpts from their original works-in-process.  

“We wanted to offer this one-of-a-kind opportunity to some of the leading artists in Sarasota, creating space for a talented performer to focus on being a generative artist,”said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “There are actors, dancers, musicians, and performing artists working amidst our circle of collaborators who have passion projects waiting in the wings. This could be an actor writing a play between productions, a cellist composing a symphony after rehearsals, a dancer yearning to expand into the choreographer’s space – or someone looking to work across an entirely new genre. This residency is designed for an artist who is hungry to expand their creative practice and explore a new ‘hat’ within the arts and entertainment space.” Sandberg added that this new Cross Arts Collaborative initiative would not be possible without the generous support of the Koski Family Foundation, longtime supporters and champions of the Hermitage.

“We are proud of our long history of collaboration with the Hermitage and the collective impact we have on the Sarasota community,” said Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. “The Cross Arts Collaborative is an exciting new way to gather resources in service of wonderful artists like Derric who consider Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe their creative home.” 

           “Every time we partner with the Hermitage, the result is a unique look into the creative process of making theater through the eyes of a leading artist in the field,” added Florida Studio Theatre Founder and Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “I’m so pleased we are able to collaborate once more to provide this opportunity to Tsebiyah who is quickly making a name for herself as one of those leading artists. We are honored to call her an FST creative family member and cannot wait to see what this dedicated time and space to delve into her richly varied artistry has produced.” 

Nearly all Hermitage programs are free and open to the public (with a $5/person registration fee), offering Gulf Coast audiences a chance to engage and interact with some of the world’s leading talent. Due to capacity limitations and social distancing, registration for this event is required.

Hermitage Receives Over $220,000 in Regional and National Grants 

The Hermitage Artist Retreat (Sarasota County, Florida) has recently received seven significant grants totaling over $220,000 that will support a variety of programs and initiatives, including the impact of Hermitage Fellows in the region, program accessibility, and organizational communications. Grants were received from the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, The Exchange, Florida Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Hermitage received $100,000 from the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation in general operating funds to support community programming and artist impact. “We are incredibly grateful to the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation for believing in our mission and celebrating the work we are doing to both support artists and make an impact in our community,” notes Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “This gift is a powerful vote of confidence in our programming and community outreach – and this grant has already inspired others to support our efforts.” 

The Hermitage was recently awarded a $50,000 Strategic Partnership Grant from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County (CFSC) to support the Hermitage’s core artist residency program and to once again serve as the Lead Community Sponsor for the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Weekend. This is the sixth year of CFSC’s support of this annual celebration, scheduled for April 14-16, 2023. CFSC previously awarded the Hermitage a $4,500 Capacity Building Grant in the spring to support organizational communications software and database infrastructure.

The Venice Endowment and Zoe Anderson Charitable Funds at Gulf Coast Community Foundation(GCCF)provided a $40,000 Arts Appreciation Grant in support of the Hermitage’s mission: to inspire and foster the most influential and culturally consequential art and artists of our time. The Hermitage became one of Gulf Coast’s “Arts Appreciation” grantees in 2021, following multiple years of ongoing support and partnership. 

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) renewed its support for the Hermitage with a $10,000 grant. These funds are intended to support the Hermitage’s nationally renowned artist residency program.

Additional community program support came from The Exchange, which awarded $5,000 to support “Hermitage North” programming through programs such as “Hermitage @ The Bay.” Florida Humanities, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, awarded the Hermitage a $4,850 Community Project Grant in support of its virtual programming series: “Artists and Thinkers: A Creative Conversation.”

Though Hermitage programs are hosted at venues throughout the Gulf Coast region, many of the Hermitage’s artist programs are held on the Hermitage Beach, and a $9,400 grant from the Frank E. Duckwall Foundation will be used to improve beach accessibility for members of the public.

The Hermitage is widely recognized for its national artist residency program and its rapidly expanding community programming, introducing area audiences to some of the world’s leading artists across all disciplines. “As our programs and collaborations continue to evolve and expand throughout our region, we are excited to build bridges to new audiences,” says Sandberg. “We are deeply appreciative for these generous grants from both new and longtime supporters, all of which will allow us to provide more support and resources to the diverse and accomplished Hermitage artists who are making a meaningful and lasting impact in our community.”

Hermitage and Sarasota Opera to present “Music’s Masterpieces”

The Hermitage Artist Retreat announces a new program presented in partnership with Sarasota Opera featuring the work of Hermitage Fellow Hilan Warshaw, a filmmaker and musician whose work focuses on the lives and works of some of music’s most influential figures. The film screening and discussion will take place on Friday, August 26 at 6pm at the Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple AveRegistration is required at HermitageArtistRetreat.org

Hermitage Fellow Hilan Warshaw‘s films explore the lives and minds of great composers, delving into the often controversial passions and experiences that informed some of music’s most influential masterpieces. Blending documentary, narrative film techniques, and his own musical background as a violinist and conductor, Warshaw’s internationally broadcast films shine a new light on musical and operatic creators including Wagner, Schoenberg, Berg, Bach, and Mahler. He is currently the video director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s on-demand Classical Series. For this program on August 26, Warshaw shares excerpts from his films and discusses the close relationship between the art forms of cinema and music. 

“We are excited to partner with Sarasota Opera as we introduce Hilan Warshaw to the many classical music appreciators in our region,” says Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We are proud to support new musical voices and multidisciplinary artists, and Hilan’s extraordinary talent as a filmmaker in the field of classical music seemed like the perfect opportunity to collaborate with our friends at the Opera as he shares his gifts for cinematic and musical storytelling with our community.” 

Please note: Unlike most Hermitage programs, this event will be held indoors at the Sarasota Opera House. Capacity for this event may be limited to accommodate safe social distancing, so early reservations are recommended. Admission is free with a $5 per person registration fee. Face masks are strongly encouraged at check-in; the Hermitage and/or Sarasota Opera reserves the right to add additional health and safety protocols for this event as deemed necessary.

Hermitage Announces Dates for 2022-2023 Benefit Events as Part of 20th Anniversary Season

Kicking off the Hermitage Artist Retreat’s 20th Anniversary Season, the Hermitage’s annual Artful Lobster: An Outdoor Celebration will be held on Saturday, November 12, 2022, from 11:30am to 2pm. Now in its 14th year, this signature event raises valuable funds for the Hermitage’s renowned artist residency program. The Artful Lobster is the only Hermitage benefit to take place on the grounds of the historic Gulf front campus – outdoors beneath a large tent – located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood. Michael’s On East offers a luscious lobster feast, with performances from renowned Hermitage Fellows. 

The 15th Anniversary of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner will be held on Sunday, April 16, 2023, from 6pm to 8:30pm outdoors on the grounds of The Ringling Museum in Sarasota and catered by Michael’s On East. This elegant dinner heralds the jury-selected recipient of this prestigious prize, which will be awarded in the discipline of visual art in 2023. The $30,000 Hermitage Greenfield Prize is an annual commission awarded by the Hermitage Artist Retreat in partnership with the Greenfield Foundation, and rotates among music, theater, and visual art. The 2023 prize winner’s newly commissioned work will have its first public presentation in Sarasota in the spring of 2025. 

2022-2023 Dates for “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens”

The Hermitage Artist Retreat’s popular series, “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens,” continues into its third year with a multi-program series as part of the 2022-2023 season. The outdoor series – a collaboration between the Hermitage and Selby Gardens – features performances and explorations of works-in-progress by Hermitage artists-in-residence and alumni. All “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” events are currently scheduled to take place at Selby Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus. The first of these events is “The Latest from Terry Guest,” where playwright and Hermitage Fellow Terry Guest will share selections from and discuss one of his exciting new projects on Friday, August 19 at 6:30 p.m., behind Payne Mansion at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus, 1534 Mound St., Sarasota. Admission is free, but registration is required ($5/person) at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

Confirmed event dates for this third season of “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” include:
• Friday, Aug. 19, 6:30 p.m. “The Latest from Terry Guest”
• Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, 5:00 p.m.
• Thursday, March 16, 2023, 6:30 p.m.
• Thursday, May 18, 2023, 6:30 p.m.
Additional dates may be added.

Each program will feature a celebrated Hermitage artist (or artists) to be announced. Last year’s “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” featured the works of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Michael R. Jackson, Kleban Prize winner César Alvarez, world-renowned violinist and member of Beyonce’s band Lady Jess, interdisciplinary performance artist Ni’Ja Whitson, opera singer Thea Lobo, as well as celebrated mime and storyteller Bill Bowers. The 2021-2022 season also saw Selby Gardens host the launch of the Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series with celebrated harpist Ashley Jackson. “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” began in the 2020-2021 season and featured MacArthur ‘Genius’ and Avery Fisher Prize winner Claire Chase, composer and santur player Amir El-Saffar, musical theater composer Rona Siddiqui, and distinguished cellist Dorothy Lawson of ETHEL. 

“As we continue to expand our Hermitage programming throughout the region and find safe ways to gather in person, we are thrilled to once again welcome audiences to share a unique and magical evening with Hermitage artists against the beauitul backdrop of Selby Gardens,” says Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We look forward to our continuing partnership with Selby Gardens on this popular series, and welcoming new audiences to experience a ‘sneak peek’ into these extraordinary artists’ creative process.” Sandberg also notes that safety and comfort remain a top priority, so as with the Hermitage beach programs on Manasota Key, seating will be outdoors and socially distanced.

Hermitage Launches Sarasota “Cross Arts Collaborative” in Support of Local Arts Institutions

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce the launch of the new Sarasota Cross Arts Collaborative, made possiblewith generous support from the Koski Family Foundation. This new initiative is designed to give frequent performers and company members from leading Sarasota arts organizations a chance to expand their artistic practice from ‘performer’ to ‘creator.’

Each year, the Hermitage will award Cross Arts Collaborative residencies to artists from two selected partner institutions. This new program is designed to inspire and encourage generative work created by some of the best and brightest in our vibrant performing arts community. Artists are invited by their respective organizations to submit proposals for consideration; finalists are then submitted to the Hermitage for consideration, and recipients are selected in consultation with past and current members of the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council. Recipients receive two weeks of uninterrupted time at the Hermitage Artist Retreat each summer to develop a new generative project, and the work is then shared with the Sarasota community in a free public program the following fall. 

In the inaugural season of the Hermitage Cross Arts Collaborative, this distinguished honor has been awarded to Tsebiyah Mishael Derry, a frequent collaborator with Florida Studio Theatre, and Derric Gobourne, Jr, a performer with deep roots at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. Considering the initial season features partnerships with two theater organizations, the final selection of artists was overseen by Emily Mann, an Emeritus member of the Hermitage Curatorial Council and the Tony Award-winning longtime Artistic Director of the McCarter Theater (Princeton, New Jersey). Mann noted how engrossing the applications were and the worthiness of each reviewed by the Council. A free public program showcasing the work Derry and Gobourne is planned for the fall of 2022; details will be announced at a later time.

While the Hermitage’s nationally renowned residency program brings leading artists from across the country and around the world to create work on its beachfront Manasota Key campus, the Hermitage also seeks to enrich the incredible and growing arts scene in Sarasota, as showcased by performing arts institutions such as Florida Studio Theatre and Westcoast Back Theatre Troupe. 

“We want to offer this one-of-a-kind opportunity to some of the leading artists in Sarasota, by creating space for a talented performer to focus on being a generative artist,”said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We know there are actors, dancers, musicians, and performing artists working amidst our circle of frequent collaborators who have passion projects waiting in the wings. This could be an actor writing a play between production contracts, a cellist composing a symphony after rehearsals, a dancer yearning to expand into the choreographer’s space – or someone looking to work across an entirely new genre. This residency is designed for an artist who is hungry to expand their creative practice and explore a new ‘hat’ within the arts and entertainment space.” Sandberg added that this new Cross Arts Collaborative initiative would not be possible without the generous support of the Koski Family Foundation, longtime supporters and champions of the Hermitage.

“We are proud of our long history of collaboration with the Hermitage and the collective impact we have on the Sarasota community,” said Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. “The Cross Arts Collaborative is an exciting new way to gather resources in service of the artists who consider Westcoast Black Theater Troupe their creative home.” The selected artist from Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Derric Gobourne Jr., plans to use the time to develop a new music short film. Of this opportunity, Jacobs added that “Derric has been a member of our creative family for many years and it has been a joy to witness his growth as an artist; I believe this residency will open up new creative possibilities for him and allow him to rise to the next level.”

Tsebiyah Mishael Derry, the selected artist from Florida Studio Theatre will use the time to create an experimental theatrical work weaving together her own poetry, songs, and more. “Every time we partner with the Hermitage, the result is a unique look into the creative process of making theater through the eyes of a leading artist in the field,” said Florida Studio Theatre Founder and Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “I’m so pleased we are able to collaborate once more to provide this opportunity to Tsebiyah who is quickly making a name for herself as one of those leading artists. We are honored to call her an FST creative family member and cannot wait to see what this dedicated time and space to delve into her richly varied artistry will produce.” 

After their time in residence, the Hermitage will collaborate with the selected partner institutions to bring a public program to the Sarasota community to highlight Derric and Tsebiyah’s work. 

Hermitage 2022 STARs Announced

Five Florida public school arts teachers will spend part of their summer on Manasota Key while working on their own artistic endeavors. They are the winners of the 2022 State Teachers Artist Residency program (STARs) – now in its twelfth year – presented by the Hermitage Artist Retreat in partnership with the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE). This year’s recipients were selected from dozens of impressive applicants, and the five teachers selected from across the State of Florida include three visual arts educators, a band leader and music theory teacher, and for the first time in the STARs program, a dance instructor. The five receive a residency at the nationally renowned Hermitage Artist Retreat, where they can focus on their own work and craft as creative artists. These five teaching artists will present a hands-on, family-friendly showcase of their work on Friday, July 15 at 2pm. This special event will be held outdoors at the Hermitage’s beachfront campus on Manasota Key; entrance at 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood, FL 34223. The program is presented in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. In addition to the students attending from the Boys & Girls Clubs, this Hermitage community program will be free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee. Due to capacity limitations and safety protocols, registration is required at HermitageArtistRetreat.org.

“These exceptional educators are also talented artists and creative minds in their own right,” says Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage. “During the academic year, their attention is devoted entirely to their students, and this has been a particularly challenging time for educators throughout our nation. The STARs program offers five distinguished teachers from across the State of Florida the opportunity to experience what leading artists from around the world have come to the Hermitage for – to focus on their craft, their art, and their creative process. Over the years, the STARs have created some truly stunning works of art, music, theater, and literature during their time at the Hermitage. Many teaching artist alumni have shared that this program enables them to return to their students with a new fire and passion for arts education.”

The five recipients of this honor, selected among dozens of impressive applicants, include: Brooke Adkins, a dance instructor at Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange; Charles Eady, a visual arts instructor at Belleview High School in Belleview; Jessie Leasure, an art instructor at D.S. Parrott Middle School in Brooksville; Jennifer Rodriguez, a ceramics instructor at the J.M. Tate Senior High School in Cantonment; and Zoe Stayman, a music instructor at the LaVilla School of the Arts in Jacksonville. 

Florida arts educators apply for the Hermitage summer residencies through FAAE. Applications are open to all Florida music, theater, visual art, dance, and creative writing teachers. Since the start of the program in 2011, 57 teachers have represented nearly 30 Florida counties. These distinguished residencies culminate with a free community program, this year hosted in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. 

“We’re excited to be partnering with the Hermitage to offer this special opportunity to our incredible Club members,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. “The Hermitage aims to inspire creative minds to achieve their greatest potential, and we’re excited to share this special summer program with our BGCSDC youth and families.”

The STARs program is one of the only Hermitage residency programs open to application; arts educators from public schools throughout the State of Florida are eligible. For more information about the Hermitage STARs program and how to apply, Florida arts educators are encouraged to visit www.FAAE.org.

“We look forward to seeing what this latest group of STARs will create,” says Sandberg. “It is an honor to celebrate Florida’s leading arts educators, and we are grateful to the Florida Alliance for Arts Education for their continued partnership. We are also looking forward to collaborating for the first time with the Boys & Girls Clubs as we share the STARs talents with the members of our community and the next generation.”