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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 November, 2003, 12:13 GMT
Artists sign up to mentor talent
David Hockney
David Hockney's own work has sold for more than 23m
Aspiring artists and directors could be paired up with such prestigious names as David Hockney or Sir Peter Hall as part of a mentoring scheme.

Other names offering their services as mentors include US opera singer Jessye Norman and Indian filmmaker Mira Nair.

From June 2004, the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative will give emerging artists the chance to learn from respected artists in their field.

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison acted as mentor in the scheme's first year.

She chose Australian novelist Julia Leigh from three finalists, drawn to her "strength, clarity and confidence".

"We need to encourage not yet established writers," Morrison said.

Next year Japanese choreographer Saburo Teshigawara and Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa will also lend their support.

Void Nair, who won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2001 for Monsoon Wedding, said she wanted to work with a female director from the Middle East.

"I know that opportunities from that part of the world are few and far between, and I think in this day and age we need to be told the realities from that world."

Rolex launched the programme in 2002 to fill a void it perceived in corporate arts philanthropy.

The proteges, sifted through by a panel before being chosen by a mentor, receive $25,000 (15,000), while mentors get $50,000 (29,984).

Sir Peter Hall, founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said he welcomed the opportunity to share practical experiences with a talented young director.

"In 10 years' time it's quite possible that a whole clutch of very important artists will have come through the patronage of Rolex," said Sir Peter.

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