The Hermitage Artist Retreat (Sarasota County, Florida) raised over $292,000 at the 2023 Hermitage Artful Lobster luncheon on Saturday, November 11th. Now in its 15th year and following the 20th anniversary of the Hermitage, this annual event raises valuable funds for the Hermitage’s internationally renowned artist residency program, supporting the creative process of artists from around the world in the fields of music, theater, visual art, literature, dance, and more. Over 200 guests attended the sold-out event, which took place outdoors on a beautiful November afternoon at the Hermitage’s historic beachfront campus. This year’s Artful Lobster was co-chaired by Terry Brackett and Suzette & Tim Flood, with Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg serving as the master of ceremonies.
The event was headlined by world-renowned and Grammy Award-winning string quartet ETHEL. This was the first time in many years that all four members of ETHEL — Ralph Farris, Kip Jones, Dorothy Lawson, and Corin Lee — were together at the Hermitage to help commemorate this milestone anniversary of this popular fall benefit. As part of the afternoon’s festivities, ETHEL delighted attendees with an uplifting and inspiring performance featuring selections from The River and Circus: Wandering City, two original works that were developed at the Hermitage. Highlights from the energetic performance included an audience participation segment and ETHEL member Kip Jones leaping through the crowd while playing the violin. Known for their acclaimed performances across the United States and around the world, ETHEL is comprised of four distinguished Hermitage alumni; this quartet of brilliant musicians has a deep connection with the Hermitage Artist Retreat, dating back to 2015. ETHEL’s residency and appearance at the 2023 Hermitage Artful Lobster were generously sponsored by Carol White Bold and Larry Bold. The outdoor event also featured a captivating performance by Emi Ferguson, a new Hermitage Fellow and celebrated flutist. Sharing from her book Iconic Composers, Ferguson charmed the audience with stories of John Williams overcoming his critics by telling tales from his once-ridiculed-now-iconic score to Jaws. Ferguson went on to perform an enchanting Williams composition from the film Memoirs of a Geisha.
“Great music, great art, great theater, great literature, great dance, great television – none of this happens without great artists,” said the Hermitage’s Andy Sandberg. “We are thankful to all who attended and supported this year’s Artful Lobster 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 fall fundraiser will also support ongoing improvements and protections for the Hermitage campus following the impact of Hurricanes Ian and Idalia.
Sponsors and partners for the 2023 Artful Lobster included Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Key Agency, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and Sarasota Magazine. A full list of this year’s sponsors, benefactors, and partners can be found at HermitageArtistRetreat.org/ArtfulLobster2023.