SINGAPORE (Mar 19): Rolex has announced the mentors and protégés chosen for the ninth cycle of its Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, a philanthropic programme that pairs gifted young artists with internationally recognised masters of various disciplines.

Every two years, Rolex selects emerging artists from around the world to learn, create and grow under the guidance of experts in their respective fields, be it in the performing arts, poetry, architecture or film.

The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative was launched in 2002 and has paired mentors and protégés in literature, dance, music, theatre and the visual arts. Industry luminaries such as the late conductor Sir Colin Davis and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison took in a gifted young artist for a year or more of mentoring and creative collaboration — to ensure that the world’s artistic heritage would be passed on through the age-old practice of mentorship.

The programme is the company’s second philanthropic venture and mirrors the first: the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, which supports scientists, conservationists and explorers and was created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Oyster timepiece and foster the enterprising spirit that the watch manufacturer’s values are established on.

While the Rolex Arts Initiative started off with five art categories, in 2004, film was added and Mirabai Films’ director Mira Nair was invited to be the first mentor. Subsequently, household names such as Martin Scorsese and, more recently, Alfonso Cuarón joined the list. Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima was the inaugural mentor of the architecture discipline when it was introduced as the programme’s seventh and latest category in 2012, no longer making up part of the visual arts category.

At a public ceremony in Berlin last month, four of the world’s most distinguished artists and their protégés were announced for the ninth cycle of the programme. The mentoring period spans 2018 and 2019.

Sir David Frank Adjaye (architecture)

As the lead designer of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, Sir David Adjaye (main image, left) is an architect recognised for his unique breadth of vision and artistic sensibility. He will be mentoring Mariam Kamara of Niger (main image, right), who oversees design firm atelier masomi’s projects from Rhode Island, where she also teaches Urban Studies at Brown University.

Zakir Hussain (music)

Hailed as “the world’s greatest tabla player”, Hussain is also a leader in the contemporary world music movement, given his stature as a tabla virtuoso, composer, actor and producer. Hussain will be mentoring American jazz drummer Marcus Gilmore, who has collaborated with Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis and Steve Coleman, among others.

Crystal Pite (dance)

This much soughtafter Canadian artist has danced for Ballet British Columbia and choreographed for the National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Opera House, among others. Her success in dance-theatre hybrid Betroffenheit has sealed her reputation as an internationally acclaimed choreographer. Her protégé is Khoudia Touré, a pioneer in urban street dance and founder of hip-hop dance-based company Compagnie La Mer Noire.

Colm Tóibín (literature)

Besides his acclaimed novels Brooklyn (2009), The Testament of Mary (2012) and Nora Webster (2014), Tóibín is also an accomplished short-story writer, essayist, playwright, poet, journalist and critic. He will be taking young literary star Colin Barrett, who is currently working on his debut novel and a second book of short stories, under his wing.

This article appeared in Issue 822 (Mar 19) of The Edge Singapore.

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