Dear Hermitage Friends,
Thank you for all of your thoughtful notes of concern. The love, support, and kindness shown by our artists, supporters, neighbors, audiences, community partners, and collaborators has been overwhelming.
First and foremost, I am grateful to report that the Hermitage staff is all safe, though many of us are still without power throughout the Gulf Coast region, and some members of the team are facing damage to their homes. Since this week was held out for annual repairs, no artists were on the premises at the time of the storm’s arrival.
The Hermitage campus took a hit from Hurricane Ian, but fortunately we are looking at a matter of significant repairs, not rebuilding. The storm surge flooding was not as high as our neighbors to the south, though the wind damage on Manasota Key was quite severe. The building structures have remained largely in place, but we do have some collapsed sections and building repairs ahead of us, plus the grounds of the Hermitage have suffered considerable damages from this hurricane.
Click here to see Jay Handelman’s Herald-Tribune story on the impact of Hurricane Ian on the Hermitage: “Hermitage Artist Retreat May Have Suffered $1 million in Hurricane Ian Damage“
I must thank and recognize our incredible staff for the work they did to prepare the campus. Everyone went above and beyond in terms of storm preparations, and the team did everything we could to protect the Hermitage in the lead-up to this monster hurricane. Each member of the staff cares deeply about the Hermitage and put in many hours of heavy labor to prepare the buildings as if it was their own home – nailing up plywood over the historic windows, building sandbags to limit the flooding, and much more.
I am also thankful that last year we made significant investments in building infrastructure throughout the campus, which helped to mitigate the damage. The work that was done to prepare the buildings was invaluable, but as a historic beachfront property in Ian’s path, the impact was very much felt.
Now, the critical work ahead must begin. We are deeply committed to ensuring the Hermitage is restored and protected so that this vital property survives — and thrives — for many years to come.
Our goal is to be operational again as soon as possible — ideally in the weeks ahead, but it’s too soon to give an exact estimate until we know more details about the scope of work, as well as the electricity on the island. While various staff members and I have been down to the campus, please be advised that Manasota Key is not yet the most accessible place to visit.
Regardless of how things shake out with government assistance – which we are of course pursuing – we are going to be facing significant direct expenses to repair the campus and to protect the Hermitage from future weather emergencies.
If you are able, please consider making a fully tax-deductible donation to help our Hermitage Hurricane Repair Efforts. Whatever amount you are able to contribute would be enormously helpful as we look to revive our beautiful campus.
If you prefer to mail a check, please notify our Development Director Amy Wallace via email at Development@HermitageArtistRetreat.org or by phone at 941-475-2098, Ext. 2. Mail delivery on Manasota Key could be delayed until roads are cleared. You may also call Amy to make a payment with a credit card by phone, as she is able to receive calls remotely.
For those who are not able to contribute monetarily, we will be in touch soon about ways you can help to raise awareness and lend a hand. We recognize some of you are facing significant losses of your own, and our hearts go out to all of our friends and neighbors who suffered in Ian’s path.
Funds raised will be used not only to repair the campus and restore the ecological grounds, but also to better protect the campus moving forward. There is a reason so many of our artists and audiences describe the Hermitage as “magical” – now, we must keep that magic alive.
On behalf of the entire Hermitage team, thank you for all of your support, which is appreciated now more than ever.
Together, we will get through this and emerge even stronger!
With heartfelt gratitude,
Artist Director and CEO