In 2002, the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, which typically focuses on exceptional achievements in the fields of science, the environment and exploration – gave rise to yet another initiative of empowerment. This time with the Arts in mind, called the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative. The formula devised behind the whole effort is a fairly uncomplicated one. On a biennial basis, Rolex selects a board of advisors from seven disciples to nominate individuals who are captains within their industries, to serve as mentors to budding artists from their respective fields. The seven fields being: architecture, dance, film, literature, music, theatre and visual arts.

Of course, the initiative would be so simple, if not for the rigor that Rolex has set within the formula, so that both mentor and protege walk away from the program having made maximum impact in each other’s lives. Once the invited mentors have agreed to the program, Rolex then takes time to sit with each one of them to help them structure their mentorships in ways that they feel will be best profit their proteges. Therefore each mentor essentially brings their padawans through highly thought-out, tailor-made experiences.

A particular, distinguished filmmaker from the initiative’s last run, Alejandro González Iñárritu [the Academy Award-winning Mexican director of Birdman and the Oscar nominated, The Revenant] shared with Revolution saying, “I don’t believe knowledge can be passed on by simply talking, so I decided to completely open my doors to Tom [Shoval, Israeli director and 2015 film protege] – I liken it to showing my dirty laundry to someone. I was starting pre-production with The Revenant and still mixing sound on Birdman. Tom came to my set and become an important and serene energy there. I ended up being the protege and he my mentor.”

And just from, Iñárritu’s words we are able to understand just how much Rolex puts into setting up the mentor and protege pairing so that it ends up becoming more than a mentorship, and rather a symbiotic learning experience.

In 2016, the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative will embark on its eighth installment, with seven new exemplary pairings – all of which, no doubt, have required the same amount of thought in setting up  – and are, therefore, en route to produce some exceptional outcomes.

Follow along on the year long journey of the various artist pairings now via

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