The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative 2012-2013. Photo: ©Rolex/Nick Harvey

The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative 2012-2013. Photo: ©Rolex/Nick Harvey

“Sponsored Video” Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative 2013-2014 mentors are chosen

Olafur Eliasson, Alexei Ratmansky and Peter Zumthor chosen as mentors under the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative 2013-2014

Leading artists from around the world gathered in Venice in October, not for the celebrated biennale, but for a project with even loftier ambitions—the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

Launched in 2002 and renewed every two years, the Rolex initiative pairs young artists with world-class masters in seven disciplines to spark creativity and to “ensure that the world’s artistic heritage is passed on to the next generation.”

The Venice event, hosted by Sophia Loren, gave the illustrious mentors and their aspiring protégés a chance to display and discuss their work from the past year, and to celebrate the next round of collaborations. Mentors announced at Venice for 2014 include the Sri-Lanka born Canadian novelist Michael Ondaatje, author of “The English Patient;” Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who garnered an Academy Award nomination for his 2006 film “Basel,” and Peter Zumthor, the Swiss architect drafted to redesign the campus at LACMA.

Recent works produced under the initiative range from a web-based collaborative novel, in which Canadian author Margaret Atwood traded chapters with protégé Naomi Alderman, to erection of a new community center on the quake- and tsunami-shattered town of Tohoku, Japan.

Rolex underwrites the project with a stipend for participants and funds for expenses. But the key to the program lies in the recognition and encouragement afforded young and aspiring artists. The arts today “are in a precarious state,” novelist Ondaatje remarked at the Venice ceremony. Talented young writers and artists, especially outside the great urban centers, “have a hard time being recognized and helped and eventually acknowledged.” Without some kind of boost promising new work can simply get lost. “A mentorship program that is not based on an already close friendship or a literary location is therefore essential.”

Article sponsored by Rolex