Composer Sid Richardson wins the 2018 Hermitage Prize

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and The Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) announce that Sid Richardson (pictured above right), a composition student at AMFS, has been awarded the 2018 Hermitage Prize. Richardson receives a six-week residency at the Hermitage, along with a $1,000 stipend for travel and food expenses. Richardson was selected by a jury that included Alan Fletcher, AMFS president and CEO; Robert Spano, music director of AMFS and the Atlanta Symphony; and the composition faculty of AMFS.

Bruce Rodgers (pictured above left), the executive director of the Hermitage, says that the partnership with AMFS has been tremendously rewarding over the past six years. First awarded in 2013, the Hermitage Prize is given to a promising composer who is enrolled as a composition student at AMFS. Rodgers explains that the residency is the only one the Hermitage grants to an artist who is just embarking on his career. “The Hermitage supports mid-career artists of every discipline who are immersed in their careers,” he says. “This is the one time we welcome an artist at the very beginning of his career. But the bottom line is that both organizations share the same goal—to nurture world-class artists. These students are already on their way to impressive careers with a multitude of recognized work under their belts.”

Richardson earned his Ph.D. in composition in the Department of Music at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He also holds degrees from Boston Conservatory and Tufts University. He received the Roger Sessions Memorial Composition Award upon graduating from the Boston Conservatory, and the Outstanding Achievement Award from Tufts University’s Department of Music. Richardson has collaborated on compositions with such artists as Conrad Tao, yMusic, the Da Capo Chamber Players, Deviant Septet, and Amarcord.

Richardson says that winning the Hermitage Prize is “an affirmation of my musical explorations. I can’t think of a greater opportunity for a young artist than to be given time, space, and a community of like-minded individuals within which to work.” He adds that he hopes to continue to, “explore the intersections of music and literature in regard to musical form—and to engage with new genres and media. My stay at the Hermitage will prove an important stage in my development as a composer.”

“We never know what will take place during a residency,” Rodgers says. “If the Hermitage Prize winner shares a residency with an established composer it’s usually someone they have heard of and admire. The organic process that occurs when artists interact with each other on our campus is a remarkable thing to observe. We look forward to welcoming Sid and doing everything we can to ensure that he has a successful and productive residency.”

Historic beachside property tours offered in September

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is offering historic beachside property tours, Friday, September 7, at 10 a.m.; Friday, September 14, at 10 a.m.; and Friday, September 21, at 6 p.m.  These free, one-hour walking tours explore the property’s colorful history and offer up-close views of the 106-year-old main building and four other historic structures that now serve as live-work spaces for visiting artists. Reservations are required and only available through email at

According to Bruce Rodgers, the Hermitage’s executive director, the Hermitage is a thriving oasis of living history and natural splendor. “Artists from around the world draw inspiration from this special location,” he says. “These unique structures have survived more than 100 years despite Mother Nature’s harshest tests. We’ll share engaging stories of the colorful characters and artists who’ve stayed here.” He adds that the tour begins with a video overview of the retreat.

The Calusa Indians were the original inhabitants of the site; their heritage lives on in the many middens and archeological sites in the area. In 1907, Swedish immigrant Carl Johansen bought a parcel to build a homestead for his family. The Johansens moved out in 1916; their house sat vacant into the 1930s, when it became a nudist resort called The Sea Island Sanctuary. After that, the property exchanged hands several times until, in the early 1990s, writer Ruth Swayze and her daughter, Carroll, an artist, spearheaded a community effort to save the buildings from beach erosion. At the time, Patricia Caswell was the executive director of the Sarasota County Arts Council, the organization that ultimately leased the property from the county in 2000 to turn the buildings into the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Caswell is now the Hermitage’s co-founder and program director. She says that tours of the Hermitage have been popular in the past.  “If these tours sell out, we plan to add more. It’s our delight to share this heritage with as many people as possible.”

Hermitage STARs Showcase Their Work

Hermitage STARs Showcase Their Work

Friday, July 20, 4-6 p.m., at the Hermitage

Four public school arts teachers from around the state will exhibit and discuss the work they have achieved during their three-week residency at the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood.

Four Florida public school arts teachers will showcase and discuss the work they’ve developed during their three-week stay at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Friday, July 20, 4-6 p.m., at the Hermitage, 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood. The event is free and open to the public.

The four artist/teachers are the winners of the 2018 State Teacher/Artist Residency program (STAR), presented by the Hermitage and the Florida Alliance for Arts Education (FAAE). They received a three-week summer residency, July 2-22, at the Hermitage, where they live and work as artists, without any expectation, schedule or demands.

Marisa Flint, a visual arts teacher from Edgewood Junior/Senior High School in Merritt Island, will hold an open studio and demonstrate encaustic painting (painting with hot wax). Rosemary Shaw, a visual arts teacher from U.B. Kinsey/Palmview Elementary School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, will lead guests in a participatory art activity in her studio. Travis Damato, a strings specialist teacher at Muller Elementary Magnet School in Tampa, will perform jazz standards on trumpet. Laura Tan, an art teacher at Southside Elementary Museum Magnet School in Miami, will show her work, including self-portraits in watercolor.

“These exceptional educators are also artists,” says Bruce Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage. “They need time to pursue their own artistic work. Creativity is like a muscle, and like other muscles, it needs to be exercised. The STAR program gives them the rare opportunity to experience an ambience where artists from around the world come to get motivated and connect with the artist within. Stepping back from the demands of everyday life can inspire leaps in creativity.”

Florida arts educators apply for the Hermitage summer residencies through FAAE. Applications are open to all Florida music, visual art and creative writing teachers. Since the start of the program in 2011, 39 teachers have represented 20 Florida counties. Residencies last for three weeks and culminate with a free community program on the Hermitage’s beachfront campus.

“We look forward to seeing what this latest group of STARs will create,” says Rodgers. “It’s an honor to celebrate Florida’s top arts educators.”


Martyna Majok First Woman Playwright to Receive 2018 Greenfield Prize in Drama

The Hermitage Artist Retreat along with its partner the Philadelphia-based Greenfield Foundation announce that Playwright Martyna Majok has won the 2018 Greenfield Prize, given this year in Drama. Majok joins only three other playwrights who have previously won this prestigious award, Craig Lucas (2009), John Guare (2012) and Nilo Cruz (2015). She is the first female playwright to win. Recipients of the Greenfield Prize receive a $30,000 commission for a new work which can be presented to an audience in two years. In addition, they receive time and space to create the work at the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, FL (Sarasota County).

Click here to read the full Broadway World article. Continue reading “Martyna Majok First Woman Playwright to Receive 2018 Greenfield Prize in Drama”

Greenfield Prize Honors Photographer with New Commission

Photographer David Burnett was understandably tongue-tied when he received a phone call a week ago informing him that he had won the 10th Greenfield Prize, the first given in the field of photography. “This is really exciting,” he said by phone to a crowd of Greenfield Prize supporters and donors gathered in a Sarasota penthouse. “I’m speechless. I’ve got to tell you that I’m watching ‘Fences’ right now and enjoying how August Wilson can put words together so beautifully and I’m sorry that I’m not able to do that.” Read the rest here.

Ellen Dore Watson on “The Hermitage Gift”

We provide a special place where

artists can strive for success, and through their successes, our lives can also be

transformed. The Hermitage Gift for artists like poet Ellen Dore Watson – more than 80 last year alone – is only possible

because friends like you make it possible!

Artists of all disciplines are invited to come to the Hermitage to stay and work at our historic campus nestled among the sea grapes and mangroves of Manasota Key.
Writers, composers, and painters connect with artistic passions within while strolling along our shoreline, transforming the time away from normal routines into what most
claim to be their best productive time for creating.

“My Story” by Ellen Dore Watson,

Once darkness fell, I walked out onto the beach as if by gravitational pull. No moon. No

people. Pound and glow of surf. Slightly scary, but energizing. I felt myself opening up, anticipatory.

I don’t think I ever before felt so primed. Back at the house, a new poem

poured out, mysterious and different—a piece I hadn’t realized the manuscript needed.

The first evening of my first stay at the Hermitage. What was it about this place?

The Hermitage is a magic kingdom. The dolphins, mangroves, iguanas, egrets, sharks’

teeth found their way into my work and my psyche. In two weeks, I had intense and

inspiring conversations with four playwrights, a choreographer, a novelist, and a

composer, whose work I will follow and with whom I remain in contact. This amazing

cross-fertilization, and everyone’s single-mindedness about pressing forward, reaching

to new places in their work, was electrifying.

And then there’s the sense of time outside time: permission to read, think, walk,

uninterrupted. I’d been feeling empty, uneasy, stressed about what direction to go with

new pieces and how to re-enter earlier problematic ones. But the perfect balance of

solitariness and fellowship, external and internal immersion, and the fact of having

been invited here—invited!—conspired to produce ease, courage, even joy. When I hit

a snag in a poem, I went kayaking, let my brain stew while I glided, wondering how

those mullets can hurl themselves skyward, and why. But then I thought—that’s what

artists do: thrust themselves out of the familiar, then plop back in to see it anew. We do

what we do because we are who we are, and we are most ourselves when doing it.

I wrote eleven new pieces and re-imagined half a dozen thorny others.

It’s amazing every time. It’s not just driving blind, but finding I’ve taken my hands off

the wheel. Let something seep up from deep underneath—or maybe it’s drizzling down

from somewhere. From outside, from inside. Or just something coming. Forming.

Something we enter, or that enters us. It’s thrilling! Hours fly by, and then here is this

new thing that didn’t exist before, and now I get to play with it—add intention,

discipline, attitude, form—nudge it toward the best it can be. Which is what the

Hermitage does for the artists they gather there: that great a gift.

This is just one story of how a stay at the Hermitage made a difference in the

creative life of an artist, but it is why we are here.  We provide a special place where

artists can strive for success, and through their successes, our lives can also be

transformed. The Hermitage Gift for artists – more than 80 last year alone – is only possible

because friends like you make it possible!

Please visit and click on the Donate Now Button. Or mark your calendar

for the 24-hour Giving Challenge beginning at 12 noon on Tuesday September 20.

The Patterson Foundation will provide a 2:1 match of donations up to $100 from

new donors (those who did not contribute to the Hermitage during last year’s Giving

Challenge), and will provide a 1:1 match of donations up to $100 from returning

donors! Be the one and make the Hermitage Gift available to future Hermitage.


The 2016 Giving Challenge is presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with

giving strengthened by The Patterson Foundation, as well as support from Manatee Community

Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, and the

Herald-Tribune Media Group.

Following Our Fellows – April 2015

Alison Hawthorne Deming is among the 175 scientists, artists and scholars from the United States and Canada to receive a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship Award. Deming, a professor in the Department of English in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona, will use her one-year fellowship to work on a new book of essays.

Alison Hawthorne Deming is among the 175 scientists, artists and scholars from the United States and Canada to receive a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship Award. Deming, a professor in the Department of English in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Arizona, will use her one-year fellowship to work on a new book of essays.

Playwright and 2009 Greenfield Prize Winner in Drama, Craig Lucas, has been nominated for a Tony Award for writing the Book of the musical “An American in Paris.” We’ll be watching the Tonys on Jun 7 and cheering for Craig.

For the third time, Carson Kreitzer has received a McKnight Fellowship in Playwriting, a $25,000 award given each year to two Minnesota-based playwrights. Carson says she is currently in re-writes for Red Velvet, Blue Glass, a new play commissioned by the Guthrie Theater.

Natasha Trethewey, the 19th US Poet Laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner, opened the 20th annual Carl Sandburg Festival last month to an audience of more than 200 students, educators and members of the community in Galesburg, Illinois.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of his first professional theater production, playwright Rich Orloff has created the 30@30 Project, an opportunity for anyone to present many of his 30 plays royalty-free from Nov. 8 through Dec. 7, 2015. To learn more and to apply for the 30@30 Project, go to

If you are a Hermitage Fellow and would like to keep other Fellows, supporters and followers of the Hermitage, up-to-date on your exhibits, awards, performances, etc., please email your news to Sharyn Lonsdale at for inclusion in our next newsletter.