More than 200 renowned artists and arts leaders from South Africa and around the world will gather at Cape Town’s Baxter Theatre Centre on 8 and 9 February 2020 to attend the Rolex Arts Weekend, a celebration of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.
Inspired by the ethos of its founder Hans Wilsdorf, over the decades, Rolex has made a unique and lasting contribution to culture by assisting in the transmission of knowledge across generations. This tradition of supporting and perpetuating excellence is exemplified in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. The international programme seeks out gifted young artists in a variety of disciplines from around the world and pairs them with artistic masters for a period of mentoring and creative collaboration.
Since 2002, Rolex has paired mentors and protégés in dance, film, literature, music, theatre, visual arts and architecture. In keeping with its tradition of supporting excellence, quality and performance, all values inherent in Rolex, the company gives these emerging talents time to learn, create and grow. Since its launch, the Arts Initiative has evolved into an enriching dialogue between artists of different generations, cultures and disciplines, helping ensure that the world’s artistic heritage is passed on.
The Rolex Arts Weekend, which is the culmination of the current cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, will include a series of public events – talks, readings, exhibitions and performances, including two world premieres – and will feature the work of the 2018-2019 protégés with their mentors – Sir David Adjaye, Zakir Hussain, Crystal Pite and Colm Tóibín.
Rebecca Irvin, Head of the Rolex Arts Initiative feels that The Baxter Theatre is a most appropriate venue for the Arts Weekend and shows the long-standing relationships that Rolex develops with past mentors and protégés. ‘Not only is it known for presenting a variety of progressive works, it is led by CEO and Artistic Director Lara Foot, herself a former protégée of the theatre great Sir Peter Hall in the 2004−2005 series.’
Through these various events, the protégés will demonstrate the insights they learned from their mentors over the course of the mentoring period. This interchange between generations is integral to Rolex’s dedication to passing on knowledge, in this case, perpetuating excellence in the arts.
Highlights of the Arts Weekend will include, in Dance: The opening event is a world premiere by Senegalese protégée Khoudia Touré, a pioneer in urban street dance, with three members of the dance company Compagnie La Mer Noire. The production was created following Touré’s close interaction with her mentor, Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite, who will introduce the dance, When the night comes, a piece born from hip-hop and infused with other dance styles and techniques.
In Architecture: Protégée Mariam Kamara, originally from Niger, and mentor, Ghanaian-born British architect Sir David Adjaye, will present their plans for a new cultural centre in Niamey, Niger’s capital. The discussion, moderated by Ghanaian-Scottish architect Lesley Lokko, will be followed by the official opening of the exhibition, Public realm along the Niger River, Niamey.
In Literature: Under the tutelage of mentor Colm Tóibín, fellow Irishman and protégé Colin Barrett completed his first novel, The English Brothers. An adapted extract from the book, which features the two writers’ mutual fascination with questions of belonging and self-definition, will be performed by local actors in advance of a discussion – What Can be Said: Home and Voice – between mentor and protégé.
In Music: Music protégé Marcus Gilmore, an innovative young drummer from the United States, will present a world premiere of his composition, pulse, commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra. The composition for ensemble and spoken word will include an exciting exchange between Gilmore and former Rolex literature protégée Tracy K Smith. Gilmore will perform the work with musicians from the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and its resident conductor Brandon Phillips. Following the performance and a solo by Gilmore, the protégé and his mentor Zakir Hussain will discuss their mentoring experience.
Attendees of the Arts Symposium will also have the opportunity to hear international artists debating the role of culture in society and the interdisciplinary nature of their work in two separate panel discussions led by Prof. Homi Bhabha of Harvard University. They are entitled: Sister-Arts and Other Muses: Influences and Confluences in the Making of Art and Against the Grain: The Arts in Times of Polarization.
In addition to the symposiums and the mentor-protégé events, an Arts Weekend cinema event at the Baxter’s Golden Arrow Studio will feature films about the Rolex Arts Initiative, as well as past and current mentors and protégés.
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