Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative

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The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative is a philanthropic programme which pairs gifted young artists with internationally recognized masters, sponsoring them to spend a year in a one-to-one mentoring relationship.[1] The initiative started in 2002 and runs every two years,[2] with the aim of making significant contributions to the arts worldwide.[3]


The Swiss wristwatch company Rolex launched the Rolex Awards for Enterprise in 1976, and the Arts Initiative grew out of a desire by the company in the late 1990s to support artists in the same way that the Rolex Awards were supporting scientists, conservationists and explorers.[4] Two years of research by Rolex led to the idea of mentorship as being more appropriate for the arts,[4] and the Initiative was founded to nurture young dancers, musicians, theatre directors, writers, visual artists and filmmakers.[1]


The process every two years starts with the establishment of an advisory board who recruit the mentors. For each mentor, a panel of nominators suggest potential protégés; these are contacted, and submit their credentials and a motivation statement, which are used by the panel to select three finalists. The mentor then meets these three finalists to choose the person they want to work with.[4]

The mentor and protégé work closely together during the year. Rolex pays the mentor $50,000 and the protégé is given a stipend of $25,000 for the year, plus the possibility of a further $25,000 after the year is over, to put towards a piece of work or project to extend the mentoring.[5]


The Initiative has been highly acclaimed by both mentors and protégés. Protégés gain from the mentor-protégé relationship, but there is also cross-fertilisation through the alumni network.[4] And mentors gain new energy, insights and inspiration from the younger artists.[5]


A full list of mentors and their protégés can be seen on the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative website.


  1. ^ a b Roslyn Sulcas (13 November 2007). "On Their Own Stage, Protégés Channel Choreographic Mentors". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-04-06. 
  2. ^ "Dance Umbrella 2010". Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 2012-04-06. 
  3. ^ Øyvind Ihlen; Jennifer Bartlett; Steve May (12 July 2011). The Handbook of Communication and Corporate Social Responsibility. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 118–. ISBN 978-1-4443-3634-4. Retrieved 2012-04-06. 
  4. ^ a b c d Tweed, Sarah (2011). "Hands of Time". Glass Magazine (8): 64–66. ISSN 2041-6318.  External link in |journal= (help)
  5. ^ a b Sarah Crompton (21 November 2011). "Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative: 'one of the world's most extraordinary arts programmes'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-04-06. 

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