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Artists Share Creative Legacies In Rolex Mentor And Protégé Arts Initiative

Rolex does more than make great watches. It is also a charitable foundation that has made a lasting contribution to cultural institutions, the arts and environmental causes over the years. The company’s philanthropy is generous and ongoing, and one of its pillars is the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. Rolex founded the program in 2002, and since then has paired 54 of the world’s greatest artists with younger artists of exceptional promise and talent from around the globe.

The purpose of the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative is to ensure the world’s artistic heritage is passed on by pairing young artists with established artistic masters, and then funding them for two years of one-to-one collaboration. At the heart of the process is an exchange of talent, much like the transmission of traditional watchmaking skills from master to apprentice. Rolex has paired artists in dance, film, literature, music, theatre, visual arts and architecture. A system of grants and honorariums supports both mentors and protégés during each term of collaboration.

As participants in the 2023-2024 cycle of the program, five of the world’s most renowned artists – El Anatsui (visual arts), Bernardine Evaristo (literature), Jia Zhang-Ke (film), Anne Lacaton (architecture) and Dianne Reeves (music) – will each mentor an outstanding emerging artist. The mentors and their protégés, who come from across the globe, will spend the next two years in creative collaboration.

Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui has selected South African visual artist Bronwyn Katz as his protégée; British author Bernardine Evaristo selected Ghanaian writer Ayesha Harruna Attah; Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhang-Ke selected Filipino filmmaker Rafael Manuel; French architect Anne Lacaton selected Lebanese Armenian architect Arine Aprahamian; and American jazz singer Dianne Reeves selected South Korean singer and composer Song Yi Jeon.

Since its launch, the program has paired 63 of the world’s greatest artists with 63 emerging talents from around the globe. The goal for Rolex is to make a contribution to global culture and to encourage a mutually enriching dialogue between generations of artists. The program gives young artists the opportunity to benefit from the two years of guidance and inspiration of working with an artistic master in their field. For mentors, it’s an opportunity to see their art through younger eyes and refresh their own outlook on their discipline.

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