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.

Post-Hurricane Update

Click here to donate.

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,

Andy Sandberg
Artist Director and CEO

Click here to donate.

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.”

Playwright and Screenwriter Madeleine George Receives Hermitage Major Theater Award 

Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, announced today that accomplished playwright and screenwriter Madeleine George, currently a writer on the hit Hulu series “Only Murders in the Building,” has been newly selected as the 2021 recipient of the Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA). This national jury-selected prize, established by the Hermitage last year with generous support from the Kutya Major Foundation, offers one of the largest non-profit theater commissions in the country. George will receive a cash prize of $35,000, as well as a residency at the Hermitage (Sarasota County, Florida) and a developmental workshop in a major arts capital such as New York, Chicago, or London in the fall of 2023. Originally awarded in December of 2021 to Radha Blank who is not able to fulfill the commission due to conflicting professional commitments, the inaugural Award Committee reconvened to enthusiastically endorse George – one of four distinguished finalists nominated in the initial process – for this prestigious honor.

Madeleine George’s plays include Hurricane Diane (Obie Award), The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence (Pulitzer Prize finalist; Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award), Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England (Susan Smith Blackburn finalist), Precious Little, and The Zero Hour (Jane Chambers Award, Lambda Literary Award finalist).  Honors include a Whiting Award, the Princess Grace Award, and a Lilly Award. Her translation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters premiered at Two River Theater in 2022, and her audio adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For is forthcoming from Audible Originals. Madeleine is a founding member of the Obie Award-winning playwrights’ collective 13P. She is currently a writer and producer on Hulu’s acclaimed mystery-comedy Only Murders in the Building, starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez.

“I was surprised and thrilled to get the news about the Hermitage Major Theater Award,” said George on receiving the news from Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “It’s such an honor to be joining in the Hermitage’s awe-inspiring family of artists, and I’m excited to have resources and time to put towards my commissioned play, which has been on my mind for a while and which I’m eager to share with the world.”

The Hermitage Major Theater Award (HMTA) was established in 2021 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 2021 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.

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 receives $43,598 Tourist Development Cultural/Arts grant

The Sarasota County Commission awarded the Hermitage Artist Retreat a $43,598 Tourist Development Cultural/Arts grant to help fund its 2021-2022 community arts and cultural programs. The award-winning creators across all artistic disciplines who stay at the Hermitage provide free public programs that attract thousands of residents and tourists every year. These programs take place at the Hermitage and throughout the region in collaboration with leading arts, cultural, and educational institutions. 

The Hermitage recently announced that its 2021-2022 programming would continue with an expansion of popular live outdoor events, all with socially distanced seating, as well as added virtual offerings. 

Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage, explains that these cultural gatherings exist to give both residents and visitors the rare opportunity to interact with celebrated authors, musicians, poets, playwrights, visual artists, composers, and performers from around the world. 

“The artists creating work at the Hermitage are shaping the artistic and cultural landscape of the future,” says Sandberg. “The Hermitage has been the birthplace and incubator for works that have gone on to leading theaters, museums, galleries, and concert halls around the world.” He adds that audiences attending Hermitage programs often have the rare opportunity to see a brilliant new work in progress, or to take part in conversations with artists who are truly at the top of their respective fields.

“We are honored that the Tourist Development Commission continues to recognize the Hermitage as a vital artistic leader in our region,” Sandberg adds. “These funds make it possible for us to share the talents and experiences of our extraordinary Hermitage Fellows with tourists and residents throughout our region. Moreover, at a time when arts organizations are facing ongoing challenges due to COVID-19, we are grateful that the arts continue to be recognized as essential to our culture and community here in Sarasota, and that we can continue to find a safe way to move forward with live outdoor and virtual programming.”

Hermitage “doubles down” on safe, expanded outdoor programming for 2021-22

The Hermitage Artist Retreat has been one of the nation’s earliest and most successful adapters to offer a safe new model for live events and performance over the past year. Today, Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg announced that its live and virtual programs in theater, music, visual art, literature, and more will continue to be held entirely outdoors and socially distanced throughout the 2021-2022 season, at venues across Sarasota County including, but not limited to, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, The Bay Sarasota, The Ringling Museum, Asolo Rep, and the Hermitage Beach.

“All of us at the Hermitage are incredibly excited for the season ahead,” notes Andy Sandberg, now entering his second full season as Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage, following his appointment in December of 2019. “Our programs are designed to offer audiences a unique and authentic look into our extraordinary artists’ creative process. This does not require us to be indoors, so as we push into the 2021-2022 season, we are doubling down on our commitment to safe and inspiring outdoor programming, as well as expanded virtual access to reach audiences and communities we might not otherwise be able to engage.”

“We are in one of the most beautiful places in the world, with so many extraordinary outdoor venues and partners,” adds Sandberg. “Artists and audiences come to the Gulf Coast to experience the rich arts and cultural scene, but also to enjoy the beautiful sunsets – our programs offer both at once.” 

Until further notice, all Hermitage programs will continue to be outside or online. Moreover, as concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19 continue in our region, these outdoor arts and cultural experiences provide a level of comfort to artists and audiences alike. “Anyone who has attended a Hermitage program in the past twelve months knows how seriously we take the health and wellbeing of everyone in attendance,” says Sandberg. “Our incredible staff, crew, and volunteers work tirelessly to ensure these events are safe and enjoyable for all.” At every outdoor Hermitage event – each approximately an hour in length – audiences are socially distanced, with clear signage and ropes to delineate seating blocks. All guests are encouraged to wear masks (provided for anyone who needs one), individual hand sanitizers are distributed to each member of the audience, and artists use separate microphones. “In addition to the health and safety of our audiences, we have to factor in the concerns of our artists who are coming to the Hermitage from different states and countries,” adds Sandberg. “For many, this is their first or only time performing in a live setting in over a year, so they rely on us to ensure a safe and worry-free experience,” adds Sandberg. 

The Hermitage recently announced the 2021-2022 dates for its popular “Hermitage Sunsets @ Selby Gardens” series, which had its debut on August 27. Virtual programming continues with “UnScripted,” a collaboration with the Van Wezel Foundation, as well as the newly announced “Artists and Thinkers: A National Conversation Series,” featuring candid conversations between members of the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council and accomplished alumni artists from across the United States. New offerings this season will include collaborations with Art Center Sarasota, The Bay Sarasota, Booker High School, and Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, among others, as well as continuing longstanding partnerships with Asolo Rep, Bookstore1, Florida Studio Theatre, New Music New College, Ringling College of Art & Design, The Ringling Museum, Sarasota Art Museum, Selby Gardens, Urbanite Theatre, The Van Wezel, West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, and more to be announced.

The wave of support continues

The Hermitage Artist Retreat received a $100,000 matching grant from the Manasota Key-based Cook family at the beginning of April. That challenge
was met in less than one month. $30,000 of this was received through the 2020
Giving Challenge, including more than $18,000 from individuals and nearly $12,000 from The Patterson Foundation. Now, thanks to a generous additional wave of support, the Hermitage has received a $50,000 pledge from a group of supporters to extend this matching challenge above and beyond the Cooks’ original gift. As a result, all gifts to the Hermitage will continue to be matched through June 30.

“We are truly overwhelmed by the response from our community,” says
Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “This generous matching
challenge has been met by artists, audiences, volunteers, staff, trustees, and so
many more. We are deeply grateful to the Cook family and to all who believe so
deeply in the Hermitage. It is wonderful to have such champions in this time of great need, and it is inspiring to see the outpouring of support for artists and the creative process during this critical moment in our cultural history.”

“We are hopeful that the overwhelming generosity of our community – and our artists’ extraordinary stories about why the Hermitage’s work is so meaningful – will inspire others to show their support for the Hermitage. We are encouraged to see such commitment to the arts in this uncertain time, and with our fellow arts and cultural institutions, we will continue to rally behind the artists and the new works that fill the stages, the museums, and the concert halls that we all know and love.”

To contribute to the Hermitage Artist Retreat, click here or call 941-475-2098, Ext. 2.

Hermitage receives $100,000 matching pledge in response to COVID-19 crisis

At a time when arts groups are facing financial challenges because of revenue losses triggered by the coronavirus, the Hermitage Artist Retreat is getting some extra support.

The Cook family, neighbors and supporters of the artist retreat on Manasota Key, have committed to matching all donations to the organization up to $100,000 through June 30.

“Rebecca Cook and her brother, Warren Cook and their family have been part of the Hermitage family and they really believe in the community and the mission of what we do on both the artistic side and the preservation of the land and nature,” said Andy Sandberg, the artistic director and CEO of the Hermitage.

The fundraising period for the matching grant covers this year’s 24-hour Giving Challenge, scheduled for noon April 28 to noon April 29, when the Patterson Foundation will also match the first $100 of every donation to any registered nonprofits.

“If someone gives $100, that gift will turn into $300 because it will be matched by both the Cooks and the Patterson Foundation,” Sandberg said. “We hope in a tricky time with the virus that this special gift will inspire people to get involved. If the creative process is stalled and isn’t allowed to find a way forward, it will be hard to find a way to production and performance and publication.”

The Hermitage owns several beachfront cottages where playwrights, composers, choreographers, painters and other artists are invited to spend six weeks over two years working on projects or just using the time to clear their minds. They are required to take part in two public programs during their residency.

The list of Hermitage fellows includes Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Fellowship award winners, as well as winners and nominees of Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Academy awards.

The Hermitage also administers the annual Greenfield Prize, which provides a $30,000 commission to visual artists, playwrights and composers on a rotating basis. The virus forced the Hermitage to cancel this year’s Greenfield Prize weekend, which annually generates donations and attention.

“The visibility of our program is what inspires people to get behind the organization, and the Greenfield weekend is a big contributor to that,” Sandberg said.

Some past Hermitage fellows have reached out to the organization and offered testimonial videos of support.

Doug Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of “I Am My Own Wife,” said the Hermitage afforded him “solace, hospitality, and natural beauty to write. I was able to sit with my thoughts and forge them like raw clay into something approximating art — that’s the great gift of the Hermitage.”

And director and playwright Emily Mann, longtime artistic director of the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J., describes the Hermitage as “one of my favorite places on earth.” Mann said this is a time to reflect on why art matters and the Hermitage “lets artists dream and think deeply about the truth.”

Sandberg said the staff and board of the Hermitage is aware that the vital and impactful work of the artists who spend time at the retreat “may seem less urgent when compared to the matters of life and death amidst this horrible pandemic. Still, the arts and the creative spirit are part of what make our lives so meaningful and special.”

He said the staff is working on programming and residencies for artists to spend time on Manasota Key for the 2020-21 season.

“We are planning with the same momentum as other organizations that are announcing new seasons, and we are still strategizing for the future and how we can rise stronger than ever on the other side of this.”

This article appeared in the Herald-Tribune, April 12, 2020.

Hermitage cancels upcoming public programs and Greenfield Prize Weekend

Andy Sandberg, the artistic director and CEO of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, announced that the organization is canceling this year’s Greenfield Prize Weekend, which was scheduled for April 18 and 19, 2020. This year’s celebration was scheduled to begin with a world premiere reading of a new play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and 2018 recipient of the Greenfield Prize Martyna Majok (at the Asolo Rep). The weekend also included the “Artist Talk: The Work and Influences of Jennifer Packer” (at Sarasota Art Museum) with the 2020 Greenfield Prize recipient, visual artist Jennifer Packer. The organization’s signature fundraising event, the Greenfield Prize Dinner, scheduled for Sunday, April 19, is also cancelled, with plans to recognize Jennifer Packer at a future date to be determined. In addition, the organization is suspending its free community programs in April.

“In light of coronavirus concerns and in coordination with the Greenfield Foundation, we felt it was prudent to cancel all events pertaining to this year’s Greenfield Weekend, and move ahead with a scaled-back version of the award presentation in the months ahead when the situation has calmed down,” says Sandberg. “We have been in communication with this year’s Greenfield Prize winner, Jennifer Packer, who has been extremely gracious and understanding. We are also coordinating with the Asolo Rep to find a future date for Martyna Majok’s reading, and we look forward to welcoming both of these extraordinary artists back to Sarasota.”

Sandberg says that canceling one of the organization’s largest and most recognizable events could have a serious financial impact. “So many of our fellow arts leaders have had to make the same difficult decisions. In a time of crisis like this, non-profit arts organizations are often some of the hardest hit, and the support of our generous donors and patrons is more critical and meaningful than ever.”