New Director Aims to Boost Hermitage Reputation

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY DEC 16, 2019

For those who know the reputation of the Hermitage Artist Retreat, the chance to create work here isn’t something to pass up.

“It’s the kind of place that when people do know about it, if they get an invite to it, it feels like winning the Nobel Prize,” said Andy Sandberg, incoming artistic director and CEO. Indeed, the chance to run the Sarasota cultural organization is attracting the theatrical writer, director and producer from his native Manhattan to the Sarasota area. That’s no small feat considering he won a Tony for producing the 2009 revival of Hair, and who also brought a production of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man to a Broadway stage and has a producing credit for Will Eno’s new plat The Realistic Joneses.

But he acknowledges that sterling reputation remains something of a secret.

Executive Director Bruce Rodgers, who retires at the end of the year, grew the artist retreat from a seedling organization to a respected residency program for playwrights, poets, composers and artists of all disciplines.

Now, Sandberg wants to grow the notoriety of the organization, both in the international cultural community and in Southwest Florida. “The organization has grown quite rapidly,” Sandberg said. “Now it’s figuring out Phase II.”

Of course, Sandberg notes, the Retreat today doesn’t accept applications and instead has a national curatorial council invite guests.

He’d like more of the art-loving community in Sarasota aware of work done. And one of the benefits of operating the region is connection to such institutions as The Ringling and the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

“We are a place where an artist can come to develop seedling ideas go all the way to full presentation, production or gallery display,” Sandberg said.

While there’s no requirement artists who complete a residency complete a finished work when they are here, being a part of the process with help develop the broader reputation of the organization. And as more artists take work to worldwide audiences and acknowledge it premiered at, or even just had the beginnings of an idea sparked, at Hermitage, that will feed the reputation of Hermitage further.

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