Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative
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. The initiative started in 2002 and runs every two years, with the aim of making significant contributions to the arts worldwide.
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. Two years of research by Rolex led to the idea of mentorship as being more appropriate for the arts, and the Initiative was founded to nurture young dancers, musicians, theatre directors, writers, visual artists and filmmakers.
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.
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.
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. And mentors gain new energy, insights and inspiration from the younger artists.
A full list of mentors and their protégés can be seen on the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative website.
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