Hermitage Receives Grant from Barancik Foundation to Protect Freedom of Artistic Expression and Support Diverse Community Programming

A $400,000 grant from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation has been awarded to the Hermitage Artist Retreat in support of its efforts and impact as a leading national arts incubator for diverse and original works of music, theater, literature, visual art, dance, and more. The Hermitage offers one-of-a-kind artistic programming with a focus on community impact, education, and social justice. This grant will allow the Hermitage to further its commitment to celebrating bold and innovative new work without censoring or inhibiting the creativity of these extraordinary talents.

In today’s complicated cultural climate, freedom of artistic expression is often being challenged, and this grant from Barancik Foundation will help provide the Hermitage with more flexibility and resources to manage the complex layers of protecting artistic integrity. As an incubator for diverse and original works across all artistic mediums, the Hermitage offers transformative experiences to artists and audiences alike, inviting leading artists from around the world to its beachfront campus on Manasota Key and offering rare ‘sneak peeks’ of bold and original new works to the members of our community. 

“These candid, often interactive experiences provide an unparalleled level of access to some of the world’s leading creators, writers, and performers,” says Andy Sandberg. “As our programs and collaborations continue to evolve and expand throughout our region and across the nation, we are deeply committed to protecting every Hermitage Fellow’s freedom of artistic expression – this will always be core to our values. This means that our growing Hermitage audiences are getting a rare and always authentic look into the creative process of these diverse and accomplished talents.” 

This recent $400,000 grant from Barancik Foundation is designed to help support these efforts, including the Hermitage’s growing community outreach and education initiatives, enhancing this prestigious national organization’s support for its artists and returning alumni talent, and broadening the organization’s reach and impact in schools and underserved communities all while providing artists with the ability to explore their craft and achieve their greatest potential, unencumbered by censorship. 

“One of the many things the Hermitage does well is intentionally engage with audiences that might not otherwise have access to creative experiences,” commented Barancik Foundation President and CEO Teri A. Hansen. “Andy and team truly demonstrate a collaborative spirit that is enriching the arts and culture of our region.” 

“This generous support from Barancik Foundation is going to not only allow us to provide more resources for the diverse and accomplished Hermitage artists who are making a meaningful and lasting impact in our community, but also to support our passionate and dedicated team in delivering the level and quality of unique programming we are committed to delivering,” added Sandberg. “It has been an exciting period of growth for the Hermitage, and now this grant will help us take the organization to the next level.”   

Hermitage Announces Second Year of “Cross Arts Collaborative”

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce the continuation of the Sarasota Cross Arts Collaborative, made possibleonce morewith generous support from the Koski Family Foundation. This 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.’

As with the inaugural year, the Hermitage is awarding Cross Arts Collaborative residencies to artists from two selected partner institutions. This 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 current or past members of the Hermitage National Curatorial Council. Recipients will receive two weeks of uninterrupted time at the Hermitage Artist Retreat this summer to develop a new generative project, and the work will then be shared with the Sarasota community in a free public program this fall. 

In the second season of the Hermitage’s Cross Arts Collaborative, this distinguished honor has been awarded to Lizzie Hagstedt, a musician, soundscape designer, and frequent collaborator with Asolo Repertory Theatre, and Jessica Obiedzinski, a dancer and longstanding company member of Sarasota Contemporary Dance

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 Sarasota Contemporary Dance and Asolo Repertory Theatre. 

“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 violinist 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 the 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 thrilled to be continuing our longstanding collaboration with the Hermitage,” said Peter Rothstein, incoming Artistic Director of Asolo Repertory Theatre. “This Cross Arts Collaborative is a meaningful initiative providing an opportunity to support the artists who consider the Asolo a creative home.”Lizzie Hagstedt, the selected artist from Asolo Repertory Theatre, may be familiar to Sarasota audiences from her original compositions in Lifespan of a Fact, as well as an early sampling of her original musical “Sophie Blanchard’s High-Flyin’ Rock’n’Roll Extravaganza,” featured online in 2021 as part of the Asolo’s “Ground Floor Series: Making Musicals.” As part of her time at the Hermitage, Hagstedt plans to further develop the full version of this show, an all-femme actor/musician story about the life and pyrotechnic death of 19th-Century aeronaut Sophie Blanchard.

Jessica Obiedzinski, the selected performer from Sarasota Contemporary Dance (SCD), will use the time to develop and choreograph a solo dance piece focused on the physical impact trauma has on the body. “SCD is honored to be a part of the Hermitage Cross Arts Collaborative, offering a unique opportunity to create for our very own company member,” noted SCD Founder and Artistic Director Leymis Wilmott. “Jessica’s persistence and dedication to her dance and healing practice is a daily-lived experience. As a dance maker, she continues to be interested in the effects of emotional trauma and how that is embodied. This opportunity is encouraging Jessica to go deeper into her research and choreographic practice, and I am so excited for her and where this launchpad experience might propel her work next.”

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 Jessica and Lizzie’s work. Details about this year’s event will be announced at a later date. 

Sarasota Art Museum and Hermitage Announce Plans for New Collaborative Exhibitions  

Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art and Design and the Hermitage Artist Retreat are pleased to announce an expansion of their existing collaboration that will culminate with two full-scale art exhibitions at Sarasota Art Museum in the spring of 2024. While the Hermitage and the Museum have partnered on previous community programs featuring award-winning Hermitage artists across multiple disciplines, these will be the first major exhibitions of Hermitage alumni artists at Sarasota Art Museum.

Dan Cameron has been selected to curate an exhibition of multiple Hermitage artists spanning the past two decades. Cameron is a longtime member of the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council, and he will work in collaboration with Sarasota Art Museum’s Senior Curator Rangsook Yoon to shape an exhibition of works focused on the impact of 10 Hermitage artists, tracing the trajectory of their artistic journeys — from their residencies at the Hermitage to the return of their work to Sarasota. 

The Museum will simultaneously present a solo exhibition featuring new work and a site-specific installation by Hermitage Fellow Anne Patterson (American, born 1960) curated by Yoon. Patterson is a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn. Her body of work consists of paintings, sculptures, and large-scale multimedia installations that combine sculpture, architecture, lighting, video, music, and scent. 

As a synesthete (when she hears sound, she sees color and shape), Patterson seeks to create an experience which can transport audiences to a multisensory realm. Drawing from her background in theater set design, she uses these modalities to create an artistic practice, hovering somewhere between the visual, experiential, and immersive. Following her Hermitage Fellowship, Patterson became known to Sarasota audiences through her Pathless Woodsexhibit at The Ringling Museum, and she was subsequently commissioned by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to create an original, community-based piece that now hangs in their lobby called Circle of Thirds (2017).

Now celebrating its 20th Anniversary Season, the Hermitage is one of the preeminent arts incubators in the United States and has hosted some of the world’s leading visual artists in residence as Hermitage Fellows, along with artists spanning theater, music, literature, dance, and film. Sarasota Art Museum is a leading contemporary art museum focused on transformative, relevant, and pioneering exhibitions designed to elevate and empower. Both organizations are committed to exhibiting and championing bold and innovative artists with a global perspective. In addition to the two exhibitions spanning the second and third floors of the Museum, additional talks and programming will be scheduled. 

“The Hermitage has nurtured and supported hundreds of artists since its inception,” said Sarasota Art Museum Executive Director Virginia Shearer. “It is an honor to highlight the important role the Hermitage plays in advancing creative practice and building a rich network of artists who continue to impact and inform the cultural life of our city, and beyond.”

“We are incredibly excited to be partnering with Sarasota Art Museum as they showcase and celebrate the work of these extraordinary Hermitage visual artists,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “While all Hermitage Fellows offer our community a ‘sneak peek’ into their work and creative process, these thrilling exhibitions will offer Gulf Coast audiences a more complete look at the expansive talent of these diverse and accomplished visual artists, whose creations often take years to complete.”

Further details about both exhibitions will be announced in the fall of 2023. For more information about either organization, visit HermitageArtistRetreat.org and SarasotaArtMuseum.org.

Hermitage Announces New Programs in May and June

The Hermitage Artist Retreat announced new programs throughout the months of May and June. Continuing its 20th Anniversary Season, these events will be presented all across Sarasota County, from the Hermitage’s beautiful beachfront campus on Manasota Key to the Van Wezel Terrace overlooking Sarasota Bay, as well as virtual offerings expanding access beyond geographic limitations. Hermitage programs introduce world-renowned artists to Florida’s Gulf Coast community and audiences across the country for candid and engaging conversations, musical performances, play readings, work-in-process showings, and educational opportunities for students and adults.

Newly announced programs in May include partnerships with Urbanite Theatre, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens at Historic Spanish Point, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and a new virtual program with support from Florida Humanities. Featured artists and performers include returning Hermitage Fellow and Tony Nominee Bess Wohl (Grand Horizons, Small Mouth Sounds) who provides the key-note conversation as part of Urbanite Theatre’s Modern Works Festival and whose play Camp Siegfried recently premiered Off-Broadway following development at the Hermitage; Julliard-trained violinist and 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Finalist Mazz Swift, who has performed at such iconic venues as Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, and New York’s Lincoln Center; returning Hermitage alumna and internationally celebrated cellist Karen Patterson; as well as Pulitzer Prize Finalist Zora Howard (Hang TimeStewThe Master’s Tools). June programs will spotlight the work of writer and acclaimed translator Jennifer Croft (William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, Man Booker International Prize) and author Tony Barnstone offering his literary insight through Tarot cards, plus as a showcase of original songs by Hermitage composers presented by some of Sarasota’s most celebrated performers.

On Friday, May 5th at 8pm, the Hermitage partners with Urbanite Theatre to present a conversation with Bess Wohl as part of Urbanite Theatre’s popular Modern Works Festival. Sarasota audiences will remember Wohl from the recent production of Grand Horizons at Asolo Rep as well as the in-process showing of selections from Camp Siegfried on the Hermitage Beach prior to its recent run in New York at Second Stage Theatre. As one of the most exciting voices writing for the stage today, this Tony Award-nominated playwright and returning Hermitage alumna will discuss her works and career as part of the festival’s focus on women in theater. 

The following week, Hermitage programs continue on Friday, May 12th at 6:30pm on the Hermitage Beach with “Black Women in our Collective Culture,” an interdisciplinary program featuring the works of Hermitage Fellows Delita Martin and Imani Perry. These two acclaimed Hermitage Fellows share a common subject: redefining the role and representation of Black people and particularly Black women in our collective culture. A multimedium visual artist, Martin has been exhibited both nationally and internationally with work combining collage, painting, drawing, and sewing techniques. Perry is the author of seven books and Pen Bograd-Weld Award for Biography, the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award, and the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction. 

On Friday, May 19th at 6:30pm, the Hermitage is pleased to welcome the return of cellist Karen Patterson for the next installment of the popular “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” series. One of the Hermitage’s earliest alumna musicians, Patterson will play an informal cello concert of favorites and original works at Selby Gardens: Historic Spanish Point. Since her time at the Hermitage, Patterson has performed all over the world including the Lagos Jazz Series Festival in Nigeria, the Jazz and Gospel Fest in Rio De Janiero, and a world premiere by Egyptian-American Composer Halim El-Dabh for the Dayton Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. “Cello on Point,” the latest installment of the “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby” series, promises to be a magical evening of beautiful music at Historic Spanish Point.

With “Moved to Music: Violin on the Bay,” the Hermitage partners with the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall to bring two genre-bending violinists to the Outdoor Terrace of this iconic Sarasota venue (recently home to the Hermitage’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Concert). Presented on Friday, May 26th at 6:30pm, “Moved to Music” combines the Julliard-trained violin talents of Mazz Swift, described by Jazz Right Now as “soaring and lyrical,” with the holistic approach of New Orleans-based violinist, teacher, and yoga instructor Rebecca Crenshaw. Both artists center the power of music to forge community and express big ideas, and both will share selections of their work and process. In addition to being a returning Hermitage alumna, Swift was also recognized as a finalist for the 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize.      

The Hermitage’s “Artists and Thinkers” series continues on Wednesday, May 31st at 6:30pm ET with “Stewing with Zora Howard,” a conversation with Pulitzer Prize Finalist Zora Howard. Thanks in part to the support provided by Florida Humanities, this virtual artist conversation dives deep into the cultural, historical, and economic realities of her play Stew, which has been celebrated as a contemporary triumph. Facilitated by Hermitage Programs Director James Monaghan, this program is presented online and features selections of the work in addition to the artist’s insights and opportunities for audience members to engage directly via the ‘Q&A’ feature.   

The Hermitage’s year-round outdoor programming continues in June with “The Radiant Tarot: Pathway to Creativity” on Friday, June 16th at 6:30pm on the Hermitage Beach with Hermitage Fellow and writer Tony Barnstone. Inspired by the words of Rilke and William Blake amongst many other artists and practitioners, the artwork and guidebook of this Tarot deck are aimed at awakening creativity and personal growth. In this program, Barnstone, author of the guidebook, will illuminate some of the impulses behind its creation, its potential interpretations, and the creative projects it has already inspired. Don’t miss this intriguing take on the age-old quest of every artist: to capture creative inspiration and make the next great work.   

The following week, the Hermitage presents “The Many Languages of Jennifer Croft” at 6:30pm on Tuesday, June 20th on the Hermitage Beach. Recipient of the 2020 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for her illustrated memoir Homesick and the 2018 Man-Booker International Prize for her translation of from Polish of Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk’s FlightsJennifer Croft is an accomplished writer as well as translator. She also happens to be married to gifted writer and translator Boris Dralyuk who joins her as part of the Hermitage’s Family Residency program. Croft and Dralyuk share selections from their original and translated works as well as offering insight on the mercurial art of translation. In recognition of this great evening of words, the Hermitage is partnering with a number of literary organizations to support the event including Sarasota County Libraries and the Johann Fust Library Foundation on Boca Grande. 

As the summer officially begins, the Hermitage travels to Lakewood Ranch on Friday, June 23rd at 7pm to present “Songs from the Sand: A Hermitage Cabaret.” This evening of song at Lakewood Ranch’s “Waterside Pavilion” stage will feature original songs and words created by artists who have been in residence on its Manasota Key campus presented by Sarasota’s finest performers. From Adam Gwon to Jeanine Tesori, Michael R. Jackson to Kit Yan, and Rona Siddiqui to Zoe Sarnak, the Hermitage has provided space and time to some of the most exciting musical theater writers working in the industry today. Hear some of these breathtaking and inspiring works, as well as little known stories surrounding some of their creation, performed by some of Sarasota’s greatest talents. (Details of the composers and performers to be announced at a later date.)

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.

Andy Sandberg & Broadway Guest Stars Raised their Voices to Celebrate the Hermitage’s 20th Anniversary Season 

On Monday evening, March 20th, the Hermitage celebrated its 20th Anniversary Season with a concert featuring Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg, returning to his roots as a performer.

“This is my first time doing anything like this in about twelve years,” Sandberg shared from the stage. He performed an evening of classic and contemporary Broadway songs, with a few other pop favorites, as well as original songs by Hermitage alumni, including award-winning composers Adam Gwon and Rona Siddiqui

Siddiqui also served as music director for the event and accompanied Sandberg on piano. “Rona is a brilliant composer and dream collaborator, and I am so honored that she agreed to be a part of this special evening,” Sandberg added.

Sandberg announced up front that the evening was not going to be a retrospective. “If we were to attempt to celebrate the two decades of Hermitage history, the nearly 700 Hermitage alumni, and the thousands of original works that were created in this time, we’d be here for a lot longer than 90 minutes!” He went on to say that this would be an evening of music and celebration, and that’s exactly what was delivered.

In addition to performing a number of the evening’s songs himself, Sandberg was joined throughout the evening by Broadway stars who are also friends and collaborators of his. The evening featured performances from recent Tony Award nominee Jeannette Bayardelle (Girl from the North Country, The Color PurpleShida), Tony Award nominee Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Wicked), Lucille Lortel Award winner Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer (Beetlejuice, A Catered Affair, Something Rotten), and Sarasota’s own Ann Morrison (Merrily We Roll Along, LoveMusik), who is also a proud Hermitage alum. Jay Armstrong Johnsonhad to bow out due to an illness, so Raleigh Mosely II, a frequent performer at Hermitage events and known to Sarasota audiences from his work with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, stepped in on just one day’s notice. The 90-minute concert featured showstopping solo performances, along with memorable duets that Sandberg shared with Bayardelle, Kritzer, Morrison, and Mosely. In addition to Siddiqui on piano, the cast was joined by Beth Callen on guitar. Both Siddiqui and Callen recently worked on the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Strange Loop, written by Hermitage Fellow Michael R. Jackson. Tony Award-winning Broadway star Gavin Creel (Hello Dolly, Into the Woods, Hair) introduced Sandberg via video. Additional short video tributes celebrated the impact of the Hermitage, displayed the unparalleled beauty of its Manasota Key campus, and spotlighted a number of Hermitage alumni wishing the organization a “Happy 20th Birthday!”

“It was an absolutely unbelievable evening that blew us all away,” added Hermitage Board President Robyn Citrin. “We knew it would be something special, but this was one of the most entertaining nights I have ever had in Sarasota. Andy’s incredible voice surprised us all, and the guest stars were extraordinary. The energy and talent in that hall was something that can’t be captured in words. This event was pure magic, as only the Hermitage can deliver!”

See more photos in the Observer’s A & E section, or click here for the full photo set from Hermitage Artist Retreat/Bywater Collective.

Between sponsorships and ticket sales, the event raised nearly $200,000 for the Hermitage and its ongoing hurricane repair efforts. “I’d say $200,000 for a great cause and a one-night benefit concert is something to celebrate!” Sandberg added. “The number of people who came out to celebrate the Hermitage on Monday night is a testament to the reach and impact of this one-of-a-kind organization – and we’re just getting started!”

Thanks to generous underwriting from sponsors, all proceeds from ticket sales directly benefit the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Hermitage Announces Second Annual Concert in the Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is pleased to announce the second annual concert in the Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series at the Hermitage, featuring award-winning composer and lyricist Zoe Sarnak. This alumni music initiative was launched last year to a full-capacity crowd at Selby Gardens with “Soulful Strings: An Evening of Harp Music,” featuring celebrated harpist and Hermitage alumna Ashley Jackson. This year’s event will be presented in partnership with the Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy. Sarnak is a New York City-based Hermitage alum whose songs and musicals have premiered throughout New York, Los Angeles, and across the United States at venues such as the Public Theater, Geffen Playhouse, Roundabout Theatre Company, Williamstown Theater Festival, and more. Joined by Sarasota-based vocalists and musicians, Sarnak will perform her original songs, including some of her latest work. Presented by the water at Nathan Benderson Park, this outdoor event is free and open to the public with a $5/person registration fee. Tickets will be made available on a first-come, first-served basis, at which time registrations will shift to a waitlist.

The Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series at the Hermitage offers the opportunity for a distinguished Hermitage alumni composer or musician to return for additional residency time and a special community concert. This initiative is made possible by a generous multi-year gift from the Ruby E. and Carole Crosby Family Foundation. Hermitage Trustee Carole Crosby initiated this gift as a special tribute to her mother Ruby, who helped to inspire her own deep love of music. A musician herself, Carole Crosby graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music and played the harp in both the Atlanta Symphony and Detroit Symphony. Following the success of classical musician Ashley Jackson’s performance in 2022, Zoe Sarnak is an exciting contemporary pop-rock-folk composer making waves in the world of musical theater, as well as television and film. Sarnak was a compelling selection for this initiative, as her work combines the Crosby’s love of music with an equal passion for theater and storytelling.    

“I am continually inspired by the Hermitage’s commitment to artists and the impact these magnificent talents are having in our community,” said Hermitage Trustee Carole Crosby. “Music was always incredibly important to me and to my mother, so it’s an honor to celebrate her memory with this initiative spotlighting and supporting some truly extraordinary composers and musicians.”

Frequently cited for her ability to blend the contemporary music world with other genres like traditional musical theater to create a sound that is uniquely hers, Sarnak’s work has been heralded by VarietyBroadwayWorldSeattle Times, and more. She is the recipient of the Jonathan Larson Award, and a finalist for the Ebb Award, the Kleban Prize, and the Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award. Her works have been performed at such noted institutions as Second Stage, The Public Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company, Williamstown Theater Festival, New York Stage & Film, The Guggenheim, Geffen Playhouse, Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, and New York Theatre Workshop, amongst many others. She recently opened the world premiere of The Lonely Few starring Tony Award winner Lauren Patten (Jagged Little Pill) at L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse for which she created music and lyrics alongside Hermitage Fellow, award-winning playwright Rachel Bonds, as well as film and television projects with Netflix and CBS. Full bio below; also available at ZoeSarnak.com.

Zoe Sarnak’s concert and Hermitage residency are made possible through the Ruby E. Crosby Alumni Music Series at the Hermitage. This second concert in the annual series, “The Pop-Folk World of Zoe Sarnak” will be presented outdoors at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota on Wednesday, April 26th at 7pm. (Estimated running time: 60-70 minutes).

New March Progams Announced

The Hermitage Artist Retreat announces new programs to round out the month of March. These events will be presented across Sarasota County, from Asolo Repertory Theatre to Butler Park in North Port. 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 programs in March include partnerships with Asolo Repertory Theatre, Embracing Our Differences, and North Port High School. Featured artists and performers include Hermitage Fellows Kit Yan (Jonathan Larson Grant and Kleban Prize recipient), writer-actor Nandita Shenoy (O’Neill Finalist, Kilroys List), and celebrated teaching artist Tina LaPadula (founder, Seattle Teaching Artist Network, former chair Association of Teaching Artists).  

On Friday, March 24 at 6pm, the Hermitage presents “Complicated, Beautiful, Messy and Strange: The Words and Music of Kit Yan,” at Asolo Rep’s Robert & Beverly Koski Center. With Kit’s musical collaborations receiving development and productions across the country at noted theaters such as Seattle’s 5th Ave Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Mixed Blood Productions, and NAMT (National Alliance for Musical Theatre), Kit Yan is quickly becoming a theatrical force. In this combination musical cabaret and artist talk, audiences will hear music and poetry from past work as well as new material. 

The following week, Hermitage programs continue on Thursday, March 30th at 5pm in beautiful Butler Park in North Port with “Creativity for All,” a participatory storytelling program facilitated by leading teaching artists and Hermitage Fellows Tina LaPadula and Nandita Shenoy. Using the large-scale visual art exhibition curated and installed outdoors by Embracing Our Differences, these two incredible artists and educators invite students and community members to explore their own perspective and share their voices. With LaPadula’s background founding and chairing national arts non-profits dedicated to change and focused on engaging students and Shenoy’s experiences acting and writing at theaters across the United States, this program promises to be an engaging and joyful celebration of our community.

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.

Broadway Guest Stars Announced for Hermitage Benefit Concert

The Hermitage Artist Retreat (Sarasota County, Florida) today announced the line-up of guest stars for its one-night-only benefit concert to celebrate the 20th Anniversary Season of the Hermitage and to raise funds for ongoing repairs to the Hermitage following the impact of Hurricane Ian earlier this season. The announced stars include Broadway veterans Jeannette Bayardelle, Laura Bell Bundy, Jay Armstrong Johnson, andLeslie Rodriguez Kritzer as well as a Hermitage alumna and Sarasota theater favorite Ann Morrison. In town for one night only on Monday, March 20th at 7:30pm, this incredible company joins Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg as he returns to his roots as a performer to sing a concert of Broadway songs at Sarasota’s iconic Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, accompanied by Hermitage Fellow and 2023 Grammy Award nominee Rona Siddiqui.

Jeannette Bayardelle received a 2022 Tony Award nomination for her role in Bob Dylan and Conor McPherson’s Girl From the North Country. She has starred on Broadway as Dionne in the Tony Award-winning revival of HAIR and as Celie in the original production of The Color Purple, produced by Oprah Winfrey. Bayardelle went on to launch the National Tour as Celie, winning the NAACP Theater Award for Best Lead Actress. Bayardelle is also the writer and star of the award-winning musical SHIDA, directed by Sandberg, which has played successful engagements in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and London. She is currently appearing in the Public Theater production of The Harder They Come, adapted for the stage by Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks.

Laura Bell Bundy has originated several legendary roles in the theater including Tina in Ruthless(Outer Critics and Drama Desk nominations), Amber in Broadway’s Hairspray, and most notably Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. Her career also spans international tours of her music, over 100 episodes of television, notable films, a successful podcast, and a dedication to activism. She is perhaps best known to television audiences for her role in “Anger Management,” and she can currently be seen in the Paramount Plus live-action series “The Fairly OddParents.” She will be returning to Broadway this summer to star opposite Erik McCormack (“Will and Grace”) in The Cottage.

Currently appearing on Broadway in the highly anticipated revival of ParadeJay Armstrong Johnson’s impressive Broadway resume includes leading roles in On the Town, Hands on a Hardbody (with a book by Hermitage Fellow Doug Wright), Catch Me If You Can, HAIR, and Phantom of the Opera. Johnson earned Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award nominations for his role in Scotland, PA, written by Hermitage Fellow Adam Gwon. Other notable credits include the Off-Broadway revival of Working (Drama Desk Award), A Chorus Line at City Center, and concerts Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center, among others. He is best known to television audiences as Will Olsen in ABC’s “Quantico.

Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer recently concluded her acclaimed run on Broadway as Delia in Beetlejuice, for which she received Drama Desk, Drama League, and Chita Rivera Award nominations. She received the Lucille Lortel Award and Drama League Award for her performance in The Robber Bridegroom at Roundabout Theatre. Other Broadway credits include Something Rotten!ElfSondheim on SondheimLegally Blonde: The MusicalHairspray, and A Catered Affair, for which she received a Drama Desk nomination. She has recently appeared on television in “Bridge & Tunnel,” “The First Lady,” “New Amsterdam,” and more.

Sarasota’s own Ann Morrison is an actor, singer, writer, director, and Hermitage alumna who has starred in original roles on Broadway (Merrily We Roll Along, LoveMusik); London’s West End (Peg);Off-Broadway (Goblin Market);and leading roles at regional theaters throughout the country. In addition to her performing career, she also founded SaraSolo Productions.

“I could not be more excited to perform alongside some of my favorite people in the world – who also happen to be some of the most talented performers I know,” said Hermitage Artistic Director Andy Sandberg. “Each of them is moving mountains in their schedules to take part of this special event, and it means the world to me that they are coming down to Florida to support the Hermitage in this way. Audiences are in for a rare treat as these Broadway stars come together for one night in Sarasota. I look forward to each and every one of them upstaging me on March 20!”

While many in Florida know Sandberg for his leadership role at the Hermitage, he has nearly two decades of experience in theater and television. “As Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage, Andy spends his professional life nurturing the work of fellow artists,” added Hermitage Trustee and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright. “How thrilling to finally get the chance to see him reveal his own artistry in this remarkable tribute to the world of Broadway and beyond!”

Tickets for this concert are $25$50, and $75 (additional phone and online booking fees may apply). A limited number of $250 VIP tickets, which include a reception following the performance, are available ($175 of this $250 price is a tax-deductible contribution to the Hermitage). Thanks to generous underwriting from sponsors, all proceeds from ticket sales will directly benefit the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Tickets are available at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall box office, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236; by calling (941) 263-6799; or online at HermitageArtistRetreat.org and VanWezel.org

$15 tickets are available for students and teachers at the Van Wezel box office only; must show proof of valid student or teacher ID.

Full Line-Up of Events for 2023 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Weekend, April 14-16

The Hermitage Artist Retreat in collaboration with the Greenfield Foundation, presents the 15th year of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Weekend, April 14-16, 2023, culminating with the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner on Sunday, April 16. This event – celebrating 2023 HGP winners Lorenzo ‘Rennie’ Harris (Dance & Choreography) and Sandy Rodriguez (Visual Art) – will also feature musical performances, including a selection from last year’s HGP recipient Angélica NegrónAdditional performers and guests will be announced at a later date. Tom and Sherry Koski serve as Co-Chairs for this year’s gala dinner, with Honorary Co-Chairs Steven High (Executive Director, The Ringling Museum of Art), Nate Jacobs (Founding Artistic Director, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe), Virginia Shearer (Executive Director, Sarasota Art Museum), and Iain Webb (Director, Sarasota Ballet).

This year’s weekend of events begins on Friday, April 14th at 5:30pm at the Asolo’s Cook Theater in the FSU Center for Performing Arts with “Aleshea Harris Presents,” featuring newly commissioned work from playwright, theater maker, and 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize winner Aleshea Harris. Her critically acclaimed plays include Is God Is, What to Send Up When It Goes Down, On Sugarland, and Brother, Brother. Described by The New York Times as “a rarefied theatrical intelligence,” Harris’ work seeks to honor the tragedies of the past and present while allowing for a potential hope to come. 

On Saturday, April 15th, the Hermitage presents two events on its Manasota Key campus honoring the distinguished recipients of this year’s prize. Both artists will receive six weeks of residency time as Hermitage Fellows to develop their projects, as well as a $30,000 prize to support the work. “Sandy Rodriguez: Putting Sarasota on the Map,” begins at 2pm in the Hermitage Palm House (indoors) and showcases the work of this year’s visual art recipient, Sandy Rodriguez. She will be joined by two jurors from this year’s selection process, renowned multidisciplinary artist and Hermitage alumna Anne Patterson and Creative Capital President Christine Kuan, Rodriguez will show examples of her work which often use topographical representations to merge societal issues past and present and discuss her process, including using hand-processed, locally sourced materials for pigments. 

The celebration continues on the Hermitage Beach at 6pm with “Rennie HarrisStreet Dance Pioneer,” a conversation with the first-ever Hermitage Greenfield Prize recipient in dance and choreography, Lorenzo ‘Rennie’ Harris, alongside jurors Joseph V. Melillo (Executive Director Emeritus, Brooklyn Academy of Music) and Charmaine Warren (founder of “Black Dance Stories”). Melillo has been a longtime friend of the Hermitage and was the first member of the Hermitage’s esteemed National Curatorial Council, and Warren is a celebrated dance writer and historian. Rennie Harris has dedicated his life and his company, Rennie Harris Puremovement, to preserving and celebrating hip-hop culture through workshops, demonstrations, and public performances and has revolutionized the relationship of this quintessentially American art form’s relationship to the broader dance community in the process.

With the exception of the Hermitage Greenfield Dinner on April 16th, the events on April 14th and 15th – like all Hermitage community programs – are free and open to the members of the public (with a $5/person registration fee). Registration is required for all events. 

“HERMITAGE TURNS 20: Andy Sandberg & Broadway Friends in Concert,” Mar. 20 at the Van Wezel

The Hermitage Artist Retreat today announced a one-night-only benefit concert to celebrate the 20th Anniversary Season of the Hermitage and to raise funds for ongoing repairs to the Hermitage following the impact of Hurricane Ian earlier this season. On Monday, March 20th at 7:30pm, Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg returns to his roots as a performer to sing this benefit concert at Sarasota’s iconic Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Sandberg – a director, writer, performer, and Tony Award-winning producer – will be joined on stage by Broadway guest stars (to be announced at a later date) and accompanied by Hermitage Fellow and 2023 Grammy Award nominee Rona Siddiqui. Tickets are available at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall box office, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236; by calling (941) 263-6799; or online at VanWezel.org.

While many in Florida know Sandberg for his leadership role at the Hermitage, he has nearly two decades of experience in theater and television. As a performer, he has traveled the world with the Yale Whiffenpoofs and Alley Cats and has played iconic roles such as Tony in West Side Story, Leo Frank in Parade, Freddy in My Fair Lady, Huck in Big River, and many original works. As a director, writer, and producer, his works have been seen on and off Broadway, on London’s West End, and recently on the Hallmark Channel, where he wrote the scripts for the movies “Haul Out the Holly,” starring Lacey Chabert, and “Five More Minutes,” based on the hit song by Scotty McCreery.

As Artistic Director of the Hermitage, Sandberg spends the majority of his time championing leading artists and performers who are developing new work. For this one night only, Sandberg will perform a concert of Broadway songs to raise valuable funds for the Hermitage. He will be joined by some of Broadway’s brightest stars who are coming to Florida to celebrate the impact of this vital national arts organization on the Sarasota community and beyond. Additional guest performers will be announced at a later date.

“It’s been many years since I’ve performed a concert of this scale, and I cannot think of a better cause than supporting this organization I love so dearly,” said Sandberg. “I am incredibly proud of the work our team has been doing to keep the Hermitage driving forward in the months following Hurricane Ian, and I am certainly not above singing for our supper – quite literally!”

Tickets for this concert are $25, $50, and $75 (additional phone and online booking fees may apply). A limited number of $250 VIP tickets, which include a reception following the performance, are available ($175 of this $250 price is a tax-deductible contribution to the Hermitage). Thanks to generous underwriting from sponsors, all proceeds from ticket sales will directly benefit the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Tickets are available at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall box office, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236; by calling (941) 263-6799; or online at  VanWezel.org.