Rolex is celebrating 20 years of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, part of the brand’s longstanding commitment to global arts and culture.
For more than half a century, Rolex has partnered some of the world’s most talented artists and leading cultural institutions to celebrate excellence and contribute to perpetuating artistic heritage, creating a link between the past, present and future.
Through the Rolex Perpetual Arts Initiative, a broad portfolio of arts that extends through music, architecture, cinema and the Rolex mentoring programme, the brand confirms its long-term commitment to global culture.
The mentoring programme was launched in 2002, with a noble aim: to ensure that the world’s artistic heritage is passed on from one generation to another in a manner that transcends boundaries of nations, cultures, disciplines and generations. It revived the traditional idea of mentorship, a natural approach coming from a watchmaking company with a long-established system of apprenticeship. At a key moment in their professional lives, as they stand on the brink of recognition, young artists are invited by Rolex to be mentored by great visionaries in their respective fields – artists they might never have hoped to meet, let alone enjoy their guidance.
Rolex was ahead of its time with its vision of a programme that was set up to be inclusive and that brought so many art forms – visual arts, dance, theatre, music, literature, film and architecture together under one umbrella. It was unique among corporate arts programmes in both scope and scale. Twenty years later, the programme demonstrates astonishing impact. How many programmes have such a huge community of artists and arts administrators that stretches across the world?
Since 2002, 1,350 people from 120 countries have been nominated for the programme, and hundreds of major artists or influential figures in the arts have nominated young artists or served as advisors. To date, 63 mentors have chosen 63 protégés from 41 countries. Rolex considers the development of this global creative community to be one of the greatest achievements of the programme.
Another striking aspect of the programme has been the extraordinary calibre of artists it has attracted to its mission. Brian Eno, Stephen Frears, David Hockney, Zakir Hussain, Robert Lepage, Mario Vargas Llosa, the late Toni Morrison, the late Jessye Norman, Crystal Pite, Julie Taymor, Kazuyo Sejima and Sir David Chipperfield are just a few of the major artists who have generously given their time to take part.
Over 20 years, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative has achieved respect and legitimacy in artistic circles for its distinctive and unique vision of mentoring – generous and global – that plays a tangible role in promoting excellence and the future of the arts. The programme has helped exceptional younger talents reveal their full potential, encouraged dialogue across cultures and disciplines, and built a multigenerational artistic community around the globe.