Imani Uzuri announced as third winner of Hermitage Major Theater Award

Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, announced today that composer and theater artist Imani Uzuri has been selected as the third recipient of the Hermitage Major Theater Award(HMTA). This national jury-selected prize, established by the Hermitage in 2021 with generous support from the Kutya Major Foundation, offers one of the largest non-profit theater commissions in the country. Uzuri 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 2024. Uzuri, raised in rural North Carolina, is an award-winning composer, vocalist, experimental librettist, improviser, and lyricist.

“I am ebullient, in awe, and overwhelmed with joy and gratitude!” said Imani Uzuri on receiving the news.“I am in reverence and beyond grateful to the Award Committee, to the Hermitage, and to Flora Major and the generous Kutya Major Foundation. I am also thrilled that the Hermitage is committed to ecology, preservation, and community,” Uzuri added. “These are values that are significantly important to me as an artist. Receiving this phenomenal award and residency will enhance my artistic life immeasurably and transform the landscape of my theater career.”

Imani Uzuri, raised in rural North Carolina, is an award-winning composer, vocalist, experimental librettist, improviser, and lyricist. She composes, performs, and creates interdisciplinary works including concerts, ritual performances, albums, sound art installations, and compositions for chamber ensembles, film, voice, and theater (including experimental and musical theater), often dealing with themes of ancestral memory, magical realism, liminality, haunting, Black American vernacular culture, spirituality, and landscape. 

In describing her intended HMTA commission, for which she will be writing original music, lyrics, and book, Uzuri shares: “Lighthouse of the Singing Birds will be an immersive magical realist work of musical theater centering a young Black girl on the precipice of her thirteenth birthday – a special one,” shared Uzuri of her plans for the commission. “She lives in an enchanted lighthouse and bird sanctuary on a small island (populated with elusive wild horses) surrounded by a Sound with a purple beach (made so by coral) off the coast of the Outerbanks in rural North Carolina with her beloved grandmother (matriarch and head lighthouse keeper) and her intergenerational quirky extended family of artists including quilters, singers, moonshiners and instrument makers.”

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. Three distinguished finalists for the third Hermitage Major Theater Award include Nissy Aya, a playwright, educator, and cultural worker; AnnMarie Milazzo, a Tony and Grammy Award-nominated vocal designer, orchestrator, and composer; and Daniel J. Watts, a Tony Award-nominated actor and theater artist. Each has been awarded a Hermitage residency and Fellowship, in addition to a cash prize of $1,000.

HMTA winners and finalists are nominated and selected by a jury of nationally recognized arts leaders in the field of theater. The 2022 HMTA Award Committee included Christopher Burney, a member of the Hermitage Curatorial Council and the outgoing Artistic Director of New York Stage and Film; Patricia McGregor, an acclaimed director and the new Artistic Director of New York Theatre Workshop; and Jeanine Tesori, a Hermitage alumna and the Tony Award-winning composer of Kimberly Akimbo, Caroline or Change, and more.

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.

New Fall Programs Announced

The Hermitage Artist Retreat will resume fall programming throughout the Gulf Coast region on October 28, with a full line-up of outdoor and indoor events through the end of the year. Though the impacts of Hurricane Ian took a significant toll on the Gulf-to-Bay campus, the organization has been working quickly to restore the buildings and grounds and has just welcomed artists back to its Manasota Key campus for the first time since the storm. 

“We have been working around the clock to bring the Hermitage campus back to life and resume operations, and we’ve been truly overwhelmed by the generous support from our extraordinary artists, audiences, donors, partners, and neighbors,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “We are incredibly proud of our mission and the work we are doing to serve artists and our community. After two decades in existence, thousands of Hermitage champions have made it known that we are not going to let this storm bring down the Hermitage’s spirit. It is moments like these when our community needs to come together most, and the arts are one of our most powerful tools for healing.”

The newly announced programs in the Hermitage’s 20th Anniversary Season pick up on Thursday, November 17th at 6pm with acclaimed pianist and Hermitage Fellow Conrad Tao. Tao, who Sarasota Orchestra audiences may remember from his acclaimed 2021-2022 Masterworks Series performance, offers insight into his latest work “Keyed In” and shares in-process excerpts of work. Seen on stage at some of the most prestigious concert halls around the world, Tao has been called a musician of “probing intellect and open-hearted vision” by The New York Times, who also cited him as “one of five classical music faces to watch” in the 2018-19 season; he is a recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, and was named a Gilmore Young Artist — an honor awarded every two years highlighting the most promising American pianists of the new generation. 

On Friday, November 18th at 2:30pm, New College of Florida hosts Hermitage Fellow and internationally produced composer Yvette Janine Jackson for a “Radio Opera Workshop” in which Jackson will share selections of what The Guardian calls “immersive, nonvisual films.” Inspired by historical events and cultural realities, Jackson’s work uses narrative created through sound to transport listeners to other worlds. This gifted composer shares insights about the nuances in the creation of sonic environments in addition to sharing work and discussing it with students and the public.

December programming kicks off on the Hermitage Beach with an exciting program highlighting the Hermitage’s commitment to interdisciplinary work spanning music, visual art, and theater. “Multihyphenate Multimedia: Music, Visual Art, and Theater” features two incredible Hermitage artists whose talents cannot be contained by a single medium, style, or language. Raquel Acevedo Klein was named by The Washington Post as one of “2022’s Classical Composers and Performers to Watch,” and she is also an immensely talented visual artist. Award-winning playwright and screenwriter Guadalís Del Carmen creates original work across stage, television, and film that never shies away from the multifold perspectives of contentious issues, giving her audiences “no easy answers and no one to hate” while leaving them “more than a little entertained and a whole lot wiser” (ChicagoOnStage). See and hear original works from this incredible duo and dive into the unique, intersectional voices driving their work on Friday, December 2nd at 5pm as the sun sets over the Hermitage Beach. 

On December 9th, acclaimed Puerto Rican composer and 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Winner Angélica Negrón (pictured) presents a program showcasing the broad range of unconventional musical tools in her repertoire in addition to the conventional instruments found on orchestra stages around the world. Inspired by nature and the music all around her, Negrón’s wide-ranging performance and compositional practice includes plants and found objects, often layering in vocals and other electronics in playful and creative ways. Be among the first to hear a demonstration from this revolutionary artist and learn about her creative process in “Angélica Negrón: Playing a Plant,” on Friday, December 9th at 5pm on the Hermitage Great Lawn. This program is presented in partnership with CreArte Latino, ensembleNewSRQ, UnidosNow, and New Music New College. (Negrón’s Hermitage Greenfield Prize commission is expected to culminate in an outdoor orchestral string performance in the spring of 2024, which will be presented in partnership with ensembleNewSRQ.)

The last scheduled program of 2022 – “Notes: On Writing and Music” – will take place on Thursday, December 15th on the Hermitage’s Manasota Key beachfront, presented in partnership with the Johann Fust Library Foundation. Featuring two artists who both bring an international perspective, the program spans literature and music. Nigerian-born Chigozie Obioma, whose two novels The Fisherman and An Orchestra of Minorities were both shortlisted for the Booker Prize in Fiction, reads selections of his work and discusses his creative process. He is joined by Filipino-American musician, instrument designer, and returning Hermitage Fellow Levy Lorenzo, whose quirky and innovative work has been described as “a potent force on the side of exuberance, pleasure and awe of virtuosity” by The New York Times. Join these two incredible artists as the sun goes down on the Hermitage Beach, December 15th at 5pm.

“As we work through the Hermitage’s ongoing recovery from the storm, we are more excited than ever for the dynamic range and scope of our fall program line-up, which speaks to the expansive diversity and creative talents of our brilliant Hermitage Fellows,” adds Andy Sandberg. “Each one of these hour-long events is going to be a completely different experience in a variety of beautiful settings, offering our community a rare glimpse into innovative works in process. We are grateful to our partners and collaborators throughout the region, who help us to expand the geographic reach and impact of our Hermitage programming. We look forward to introducing the work of these visionary artists to thousands of new and returning audience members in this 20th Anniversary Season for these truly one-of-a-kind events.”

Post-Hurricane Update

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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

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Hurricane Ian Damage

Hermitage Artist Retreat may have suffered $1 million in Hurricane Ian damage

by Jay Handelman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 1, 2022

The historic wooden cottages that make up the Hermitage Artist Retreat on Manasota Key in Englewood are still standing after Hurricane Ian, but will probably require more than $1 million in repairs.

“It looks like the giant from ‘Into the Woods’ walked onto the campus and stomped around,” Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg said Saturday.

“It’s hard to assess the full damage as yet and we’re working to get contractors down here, but I’m guessing we’re looking at seven figures of damage repairs,” he said.

Fortunately, there were no visiting artists in residence at the retreat, which traditionally closes for a few weeks each September to refresh and repair the buildings. The Hermitage has canceled residencies for two weeks and a program on Oct. 6 at the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast’s Bay Preserve, Sandberg said.

“The grounds are severely torn up. There are trees, leaves and branches on every square inch of the property and all over Manasota Key, and it’s hard to access the key. Manasota Key seems like it’s been a little bit forgotten here on this barrier island that splits two counties,” Sandberg said. 

The Hermitage has five historic buildings on a nine-acre campus where artists from around the world come up to six weeks over two years to work on new projects without the pressures of their everyday lives.

Two of the structures date to 1907, including the Hermitage House, which has served as the main gathering place for artists and some visitors on the grounds. Sandberg said those buildings were moved back 50 feet from the water’s edge during a restoration about 20 years ago. Three other buildings date back to 1941.

Sandberg said when he first drove up after the storm passed, “I was prepared to find that some of the buildings had washed away to Mexico. I was happy to see that the campus is still there. But we suffered some severe damage, some flooding. Fortunately, the storm surge wasn’t as bad as they expected, but the wind damage was pretty bad.”

A few of the doors and windows blew out on the historic structures, and a kayak shed “essentially blew away and I can’t tell you where it went,” he said. The lanai screen also was ripped away from the Palm House, which serves as the organization’s administrative offices.

Sandberg said everything is fixable and “it’s going to take quick action to make it happen. Our top priority is getting back to habitability. We can’t control when Manasota Key gets power back, but we can take action to make sure the buildings are up to functionality in that time.”

He added that some of the artists who have already been to Hermitage have offered to come down and help.

Read the complete article here.

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 Announces New Members of National Curatorial Council

Each year, the organization’s esteemed Curatorial Council selects artists of extraordinary ability across multiple disciplines for Hermitage Fellowships. The Hermitage Curatorial Council is comprised of visionary leaders connected to some the most renowned cultural institutions in the world.

The Hermitage Artist Retreat recently announced its 2022-2023 Curatorial Council, comprised of distinguished national arts leaders spanning the fields of theater, music, visual art, literature, and arts education. The newest additions to the Council include award-winning visual and multimedia artist Sanford BiggersNew York Times bestselling author Cathy Park Hong, Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Rajiv Joseph, and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Du Yun. Sanford Biggers and Du Yun are also Hermitage alumni, with Biggers winning the Hermitage Greenfield Prize in 2010 – the first awarded in the discipline of visual art.

“We are honored to welcome these visionary leaders to the Hermitage Curatorial Council,” says Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage. “Sanford Biggers, Cathy Park Hong, Rajiv Joseph, and Du Yun are forward-thinking creative minds with a finger on the pulse, each highly regarded for their unique contributions to their respective fields. The members of this esteemed Curatorial Council share a collective passion for the development and creation of new work from bold and diverse voices, and we are incredibly fortunate to have them in the Hermitage family. With their breadth of experience, their vast networks, and their insightful ability to identify extraordinary talent, we know that the selection of our Fellows could not be in better hands.”

Sanford Biggers was awarded the Hermitage Greenfield Prize in 2010. His work is an interplay of narrative, perspective, and history that speaks to current social, political, and economic happenings while also examining the contexts that bore them. His diverse practice positions him as a collaborator with the past through explorations of often-overlooked cultural and political narratives from American history. Appointed the 2021-2022 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor and Scholar in the MIT Department of Architecture, he is also a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of the Rome Prize in Visual Art, and the 2018 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award.  

Cathy Park Hong’s New York Times bestselling book of creative nonfiction, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography, and earned her recognition on TIME’s “100 Most Influential People of 2021” list. She is also the author of poetry collections Engine EmpireDance Dance Revolution, chosen by Adrienne Rich for the Barnard Women Poets Prize; and Translating Mo’um. Hong is the recipient of the Windham-Campbell Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She is a full professor at Rutgers-Newark University.

Rajiv Joseph’s play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has twice won the Obie Award for Best New American Play, first in 2016 with Guards at the Taj (also a 2016 Lortel Winner for Best Play) and in 2021 for Describe the Night. Other plays include ArchdukeGruesome Playground InjuriesAnimals Out of PaperThe Lake EffectThe North PoolMr. Wolf, and King James. He is also a member of Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.

Du Yun was born and raised in Shanghai, China, and works at the intersection of opera, orchestral, theater, cabaret, musical, oral tradition, public performances, electronics, visual arts, and noise. Known for her “relentless originality and unflinching social conscience” (The New Yorker), Du Yun’s second opera, Angel’s Bone (libretto by Royce Vavrek), won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music. She was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Classical Composition category for her work Air Glow. Her collaborative opera Sweet Land with Raven Chacon (for opera company The Industry) was named the 2021 Best New Opera by the North America Critics Association. Du Yun is a past Hermitage Fellow.

The full National Curatorial Council for the 2022-2023 season, comprised of 13 accomplished and diverse nominating members from across the country, includes: 

Sanford Biggers (visual art), Celebrated Visual and Multimedia Artist, Guggenheim Fellow, Hermitage Greenfield Prize Winner

Eric Booth (arts education)International Arts Learning Consultant with Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, LA Philharmonic, Juilliard, and more

Christopher Burney (theater and film), Artistic Director of New York Stage and Film

Daniel Byers (visual art)Director of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University 

Claire Chase (music) Flutist, Avery Fisher Prize Winner, and MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellow

Jennifer Clement (literature)President, PEN International 

Kimberly Drew (visual art), Writer, Independent Curator, and Art Influencer

Nataki Garrett (theater), Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Cathy Park Hong (literature), Award-Winning Author and Time’s “100 Most Influential People of 2021”

Rajiv Joseph (theater), Award-Winning Playwright and Screenwriter; Member of Steppenwolf Theater, Chicago

Mitchell Jackson (literature), Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author

Terrance McKnight (music) Evening Host of WNYC/WQXR Radio

Du Yun (music)Pulitzer Prize-Winning and Grammy Award-Nominated Composer

Hermitage Welcomes Four New Members to Board of Trustees

The Hermitage Artist Retreat announced today that Sondra BillerStephanie JonesLiz Richardson, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Hermitage alumnus Doug Wright have been elected to the Hermitage Board of Trustees. These newest additions to the Hermitage Board follow a successful season that has included over 50 live programs and events, dozens of new and expanded arts and education collaborations in the community, another record-breaking fiscal year, a dramatic expansion of the Hermitage team, and the launch of a new national commission in theater. 

“We are incredibly excited to be welcoming these four distinguished individuals to the Hermitage Board as we enter our 20th anniversary season,” says Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “These are some of the Hermitage’s most vibrant champions, and their passion for the mission and future of the organization is truly inspiring. Their experience, intelligence, and thoughtful creativity will be invaluable to the organization’s continued growth and success.”

Robyn Citrin will continue in her second year as President of the Hermitage Board, with David Greenserving as Vice President, Steve Adler as Treasurer, Ellen Berman as Secretary, and Carole Crosby as Chair of Governance.  

“It is truly an honor to welcome Doug, Liz, Sondra, and Stephanie to our Board,” says Hermitage Board President Robyn Citrin. “Andy’s vision for the Hermitage is truly inspiring, and along with the extraordinary team that he has assembled, they are elevating the organization to new heights and putting the Hermitage on the national map. I look forward to working with these new trustees to ensure a bright future for the organization, creating a lasting impact in our community and our culture.”

Doug Wright is a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright. He is a Hermitage alumnus and served as a juror for the inaugural Hermitage Major Theater Award in 2021. His plays and musicals include I Am My Own Wife (Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize in Drama), Quills (subsequently adapted by Wright as a screenplay), Grey Gardens, The Little Mermaid, War Paint, and Hands on a Hardbody, among others. He has served on the boards of New York Theatre Workshop, Yaddo, and the Dramatists Guild, where he served as President for many years. He lives in New York with his partner, songwriter David Clement.

Stephanie Jones is a native of Richmond, Virginia. Having worked in corporate recruiting for over 20 years, she is currently the Director of Experienced Talent Acquisition for Kroll, a global professional services firm that specializes in helping organizations anticipate and exceed the complex demands surrounding risk, governance, operations, and growth. Stephanie has been in the Gulf Coast region for three years, living with her husband Gene in Venice, who serves as President and CEO of the YMCA of Southwest Florida.

Sondra Biller’s career began as a registered nurse in Austin, Texas. She holds a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in public administration. She also has a certificate from the School of Business’ Management Institute at the University of North Carolina. Biller has worked at the UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, where she held positions as a nurse educator clinician and nurse manager for a new acute rehabilitation unit. Upon moving to Chicago, she worked in health care marketing for assisted living and rehabilitation facilities. Her volunteer service has included serving as a tour guide at the Chicago History Museum and a disaster responder for the American Red Cross. Sondra and her husband Gerald moved to Sarasota in 2012, where they have been active members of the arts community. She served as Co-Chair of the 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner.

Liz Richardson is a passionate advocate for the arts, education, and conservation. She began her career in the healthcare industry, starting as a clinical speech pathologist and then moving into management as a program evaluation director, followed by establishing a healthcare quality management consulting practice. In the non-profit world, Richardson has been a vigorous public education advocate, serving as President of the Board of the Newton Schools Foundation for multiple years. She has also served as a volunteer and board member for “Understanding Our Differences,” an award-winning national disability awareness and acceptance program. Along with other Boston area women, she began the non-profit “Women Working for Oceans,” increasing awareness of and participation in ocean conservation. She has also been active for many years as a board member of Boston’s “Invest to Elect,” a non-profit dedicated to electing women to positions of federal leadership. She and her husband Duncan now spend half of their year in Florida as residents of Manasota Key.

The Hermitage’s board officers for the 2022-2023 season are: Robyn Citrin, President; David Green, Vice President; Steve Adler, Treasurer; and Ellen Berman, Secretary. The Hermitage Board of Trustees also includes Sondra Biller*, Christine Boone, Maryann Casey, Carole Crosby, Marletta Darnall, Leslie Edwards, Stephanie Jones*, Tina Shao Napoli, Michael Pender, Charlotte Perret, Liz Richardson*, Edward M. Swan, Jr., Nelda Thompson, Mary Lou Winnick, Doug Wright*, and Andy Sandberg, Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO (ex-officio). *Indicates New Trustee

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.