Every two years, a new advisory board of distinguished artists and arts practitioners suggests and endorses potential mentors. Once the mentors have been approached and have agreed to take part, Rolex works with them to establish a profile of the protégé they would like to work with. Each mentorship is therefore tailor-made.
Young artists cannot apply directly to the programme. Rather, seven nominating panels – one panel for each artistic discipline – are assembled. The expert panel members identify suitable potential protégés, who are then invited by Rolex to submit applications. Panel members study these applications and recommend three finalists from their respective discipline. Finally, Rolex arranges for the mentor to meet the finalists and choose his or her protégé.
The mentoring year
Mentors and protégés are asked to spend a minimum of six weeks together, though many spend considerably more time. They agree on where and how they want to interact. This may mean a protégé is granted access to a master at work, or to a mentor and protégé actually collaborating on a work.
Each protégé receives a grant of 25,000 Swiss francs during the mentoring year, in addition to funds to cover travel and other major expenses. A budget of a further 25,000 Swiss francs is available to each protégé after the year is over. This is offered specifically towards the creation of a new piece of work, a publication, a performance or public event. To compensate them for the time, energy and other resources they provide, each of the mentors is awarded an honorarium of 75,000 Swiss francs.
After the mentoring year, Rolex stays in touch with the protégés and continues to promote their work. Many of the protégés have gone on to significant careers, have changed disciplines, collaborated with each other and have become mentors themselves.
August 2017 Polish film and theatre director Michał Borczuch is challenging linear story-telling conventions with his provocative new works.
July 2017 Naomi Alderman has won one of the most coveted literature prizes in the United Kingdom.
July 2017 Tracy K. Smith has received the greatest honour in poetry in the United States.