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Black Ties and Tales

Hermitage Artist Retreat Artistic Director plans performance return

Andy Sandberg preps for his return to the stage, Planned Parenthood hosts its annual dinner and more.

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  • | 6:10 p.m. March 12, 2023
Andy Sandberg will perform for the first time in year at the Hermitage's benefit concert.
Andy Sandberg will perform for the first time in year at the Hermitage's benefit concert.
File photo
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A return to the stage

Hermitage Artist Retreat Artistic Director and CEO Andy Sandberg has had his days busy as be, both planning his organization’s artistic programs as well as overseeing repairs to the artist space following Hurricane Ian.

Of course, there’s always room for another endeavor. Sandberg and staff are putting on a one-night-only benefit concert to celebrate the Hermitage’s 20th anniversary season as well as to raise funds for ongoing repairs at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on March 20. 

The show promises performances from Broadway stars as like Jeannette Bayardelle, Laura Bell Bundy and Jay Armstrong Johnson as well as Hermitage Fellow and 2023 Grammy nominee Rona Siddiqui.

What’s more is that the night will feature a performance from Sandberg himself, who says it’s likely the only chance for Sarasota locals to see him perform for some time. 

“In talking over options with members of the Hermitage team (for the concert), we figured it’s probably the only time I’ll be performing in Sarasota, so let’s go big,” Sandberg said. 

Sandberg — who hasn’t acted in a production since 2012 — has been training with composer Siddiqui to be good and ready for the big night. 

Sandberg says he isn’t nervous just yet, and is excited for the audience to enjoy the 90-minute show. 

“I think some of these guest stars are going to steal the show,” he said.

Art Avenue auction
Megan Howell with a painting of herself and her dog Lil B.
Courtesy photo

Second Heart Homes hosted its second annual Hands Up For Homes! fundraiser at the Art Avenue gallery on March 10.

More than 150 art enthusiasts turned out for the auction at the Crossings at Siesta Key, which benefited the nonprofit’s programs providing housing for local homeless. 

As was fitting for an art auction, several artists provided creative pieces that guests were able to auction for. Local artists like Jack Dowd, Brandon Thrift, Vicki Chelf and more all had their artwork on display and were on hand mingling with guests at the auction.

One artist had painted founder Megan Howell with her dog Lil B in an homage to “Lady with an Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci. That piece was sold for $10,000 and donated back to Howell. 

The event had raised more than $56,000 by night’s end. Howell says the final number is expected to increase through online donations over the next couple weeks. 

Planned Parenthood dinner
Blair Imani at Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida
Photo courtesy of Cliff Roles

Author and speaker Blair Imani headlined Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida’s spring dinner fundraiser on March 9.

The annual event brought in just over 300 guests to the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium for the night, which included words from a number of Planned Parenthood figures including president and CEO Stephanie Fraim, board chair Mary Braxton-Joseph, treasurer Dennis Rees and more. 

The nonprofit raised more than $225,000 throughout the event but the night’s entertainment didn’t stop there. The program ended with a pop-up party featuring music from Twinkle Rock Soul Radio that had guests dancing away.


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