The Hermitage Raises More Than $225,000 at 2021 Artful Lobster – A Record-Breaking Celebration!

The Hermitage Artist Retreat raised more than $225,000 at the 2021 Artful Lobster luncheon on November 13. Now in its thirteenth year, the Artful Lobster raises valuable funds for the Hermitage’s renowned artist residency program and community programming initiatives. Amidst limited capacity and added safety precautions, 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 Charlie Huisking and Charlotte Perret, with Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg as master of ceremonies. Michael’s On East served a plentiful barbecue and much-heralded lobster feast.

Dorothy Lawson, a Hermitage Fellow and founding cellist and artistic director of the genre-bending string quartet ETHEL, headlined the event and riveted the audience with her virtuosic cello performance and tales of her time at the Hermitage. She was introduced by popular radio personality Terrance McKnight, evening host of WQXR New York Public Radio and a member of the Hermitage National Curatorial Council. Lawson played an original song from a full-length musical experience that she and her fellow ETHEL musicians created during their Hermitage residency. To celebrate the Hermitage’s free community programs and collaborations, Raleigh Mosely II, a friend of the Hermitage and frequent performer with the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, powerfully delivered an original song written by musical theater composer and Hermitage Fellow Rona Siddiqui. Following lunch, Lawson returned to the stage to perform her interpretation of a piece by Bach, which she dedicated to the memory of the late Susan Brainerd, a recent Hermitage trustee who sponsored Lawson’s last visit to the Hermitage earlier this year.

“When Bach composed his cello suites, nobody was writing that kind of music – it was brand new,” said Terrance McKnight as he introduced Lawson and shared his perspective on the role of the Hermitage. “Legendary artists like Bach composed some of the music we have today because of a benefactor. This is such an important conversation to have today because the work that you all are doing by supporting the Hermitage is inspiring these artists.”

“Great music, great art, great theater, great literature, great television – none of this happens without great artists,” added Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO 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.”

Sponsors and partners for the 2021 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 at

Hermitage Receives $50,000 Grant from Community Foundation of Sarasota County

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has awarded the Hermitage Artist Retreat a $50,000 Strategic Partnership Grant to support the Hermitage’s nationally renowned artist residency program and, for the fifth consecutive season, to serve as the lead Community Sponsor of the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner and Celebration in April of 2022.

The Hermitage Greenfield Prize is a groundbreaking partnership between the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation. This prestigious national prize seeks to bring into the world works of art that will have a significant impact on the broad as well as the artistic landscape. 2022 will mark the fourteenth year of this annual jury-selected award, with the Hermitage Greenfield Prize Dinner scheduled for Sunday, April 10, at Michael’s On East in Sarasota.

The Hermitage Greenfield Prize includes a six-week Hermitage residency and a $30,000 commission to create an original work. The distinguished honor rotates annually among music, theater, and visual art. The 2021 Hermitage Greenfield Prize was awarded to playwright Aleshea Harris, with her commission set to premiere in 2023. The 2022 prize will be awarded to an artist in the discipline of music.

In addition, the Community Foundation’s sponsorship will help to support the Hermitage’s artist residency program. Each year, the Hermitage invites accomplished and diverse artists across multiple disciplines for residencies on its beachfront campus. Hermitage Fellows include fourteen Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur ‘Genius’ and Guggenheim Fellows, Poets Laureate, and dozens of Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar winners and nominees. Works created and developed at the Hermitage have been presented at renowned theaters, concert halls, and galleries throughout the world. Artists are nominated for residencies by the Hermitage’s National Curatorial Council, which is comprised of artistic leaders from some of the most highly regarded cultural institutions across the globe.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for their continued support and generosity,” said Hermitage Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg. “This is now the Community Foundation’s fifth consecutive year as ‘Grand Sponsor’ of the Prize Dinner and the surrounding events celebrating this recognition. Their continued partnership makes a tremendous difference as the Hermitage Greenfield Prize seeks to bring together Sarasota residents for a unique opportunity to see the creation of a visionary new work – born right here on Manasota Key – before it goes on to future life throughout the world. We are also honored that, with this grant, the Community Foundation continues to champion our core artist residency program, recognizing the Hermitage’s commitment to supporting artists in their creative process, and believing in the power of the arts to make a difference.”