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The Hermitage Artist Retreat and Van Wezel Foundation Partner on Innovative New Arts Experience: UNSCRIPTED: Arts from the Inside Out

SARASOTA, June 30, 2020 – The Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Van Wezel Foundation will debut an innovative new art experience this summer called UNSCRIPTED: Arts from the Inside Out. This intimate, “off-script” series will take audiences on an insider’s journey of the artistic process, produced by award-winning writers, musicians, composers, choreographers, visual artists, educators, and other Hermitage Fellows from around the globe.

“Great art doesn’t begin in front of an audience. It begins in the private spaces where artists dream, work, experiment and create,” noted Andy Sandberg, Artistic Director and CEO of the Hermitage Artist Retreat. “The unique essence of UNSCRIPTED is that the audience never knows exactly what to expect or what they will experience, creating a sense of mystery and anticipation for each gathering.”

“Forward-thinking partnerships are essential to our vision for the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center,” says Cheryl Mendelson, CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation. “The concept for a series of truly unscripted performance experiences, where the participants do not know the details of the program in advance, is a fresh and innovative way for audiences and artists to engage with each other. We look forward to paving the way for these kinds of unique collaborations that will ultimately be a part of the future of the new performing arts center.”

UNSCRIPTED is a first-time partnership between the Hermitage and Van Wezel Foundation. In the spirit of the series name, there is no single venue or stage and every performance will take place in a variety of forms and locations. Whether it be a virtual zoom room, on the beach, in a studio, or even in a private living room, each presentation is a one-of-a-kind interactive experience.

“The arts are essential to the vitality of our community,” Sandberg further noted. “Our core mission at the Hermitage is to support artists and the creative process. UNSCRIPTED is a unique opportunity to welcome audiences into a space where art is created before it goes on to full productions, tours, museums or concert halls. We are excited to collaborate with the Van Wezel Foundation, especially as they look to build a new venue along the Bayfront, where we can continue to showcase the innovative art of our Hermitage Fellows and provide a truly extraordinary experience for our community.”

In its inaugural year, UNSCRIPTED live performance experiences will initially be presented as a thank you to supporters of the Hermitage Artist Retreat and Van Wezel Foundation, with select performances available streaming online for a limited time thereafter. Furthermore, UNSCRIPTED offers opportunities to incubate fresh ideas from experienced artists and showcase up-and-coming artists in ways and places that are unexpected, deeply personal and out of the ordinary. UNSCRIPTED is one way the Hermitage Artist Retreat and Van Wezel Foundation hope to reimagine the future of the performing arts on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“As we invest in the economic recovery of our community and look to build the Sarasota Performing Arts center as a community asset, we intend this to be a place for ideas, a place for the arts and a place for you,” Mendelson added. “The Hermitage Artist Retreat is known for its pioneering artists and high-caliber creativity. That is the beauty of this partnership – we can evolve ideas about the arts together. It’s unscripted.”


The Hermitage is a non-profit artist retreat located in Manasota Key, Florida, inviting accomplished artists across multiple disciplines for residencies on its beachfront campus, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Hermitage artists are invited to interact with the local community, serving thousands of Gulf Coast residents and visitors each year with unique and inspiring programs. Hermitage fellows have included nine Pulitzer Prize winners, along with multiple Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and MacArthur Fellowship award winners. Works created at this beachside retreat by a diverse group of Hermitage alumni have gone on to renowned theaters, concert halls, and galleries throughout the world. Each year, the Hermitage awards the $30,000 Hermitage Greenfield Prize for a new work of art, and the Aspen Music Festival awards the annual Hermitage Prize in Composition. For more information about The Hermitage Artist Retreat, visit, join us on Facebook.


Since 1987, the Van Wezel Foundation has partnered with the City of Sarasota to foster a connection between the people, the bay and the spirit of human creativity. The Foundation’s mission is to create a world-class performing arts center that enriches the community, supports arts education and inspires young minds. Each year, the Foundation provides grants to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall to support arts education throughout our region. Together, we serve more than 30,000 students with enriching arts-based education opportunities and professional development for more than 400 teachers across five counties. In 2018, the city of Sarasota approved a master plan to develop 53 acres on the Bayfront into a vibrant, accessible park with a new performing arts center at the heart of it. The Foundation is leading The Future is Now Campaign to help the community realize the promise of the master plan. To learn more about the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center and get involved, visit For more information on the Foundation, visit, or join us on Facebook and Instagram.

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