[creative partner] for people working

toward a more just, sustainable and creative world.

About Us

We believe that that culture is an essential part of a healthy society, and that social change is fundamentally a creative act.

We help people across sectors to engage the catalytic potential of artists and culture to drive social change and make communities more vital, sustainable and just.

We see creativity, equity, and environmental sustainability as key and interrelated elements of the world we want. A just and sustainable future requires creativity—to imagine solutions to the complex challenges we face today and create a better world for all. Cultural equity—ensuring people from all walks of life have the opportunity to express themselves creatively and sustain their culture—is an essential to a healthy society. And we all have a stake in ensuring the integrity of our ecosystem, for the future of our human society and culture.

All of our projects are distinct, designed collaboratively with our partners and clients. We specialize in helping people explore uncharted territory, and developing and realizing boundary-crossing ideas.

Our Services

  • Research and Analysis
  • Strategy Development
  • Program Design & Management
  • Program Assessment
  • Executive Coaching

What we do

Creativity and Culture

Creativity and Culture

Sample Projects

Art of Change

Creativz

WHO WE ARE

Holly Sidford

Holly Sidford

Co-Director

Holly is an expert systems thinker–seeing connections and making more than the sum of the parts. Her endless curiosity, penetrating intelligence and commitment to excellence underpins all of Helicon’s work. Holly draws on her training as an historian and her experiences as a program developer and funder to inform Helicon’s efforts to elevate the role of artists, recognize the full diversity of creative expression and make the arts and culture a more central part of community life.

Holly has a knack for identifying the most important issue facing the field at the time, and her work is often a thought-provoking catalyst for change. Reports such as Bright Spot Leadership in the Pacific Northwest (Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, 2012) and Fusing Art, Culture and Social Change (National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 2011) have stimulated field-wide discussion. Earlier in her career, her work at the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund helped shift national discourse and practice in the ways cultural organizations engage audiences and communities.  In 2000, Holly’s work prompted unprecedented research on artists, Investing in Creativity (Urban Institute, 2003), and the creation of Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a unique ten-year initiative to expand support and recognition for artists nationwide.

Holly serves on the board of Sadie Nash Leadership Project, an award-winning leadership program for young female leaders in metropolitan New York, and Fractured Atlas, a national organization pioneering technology-based ways to empower artists, cultural organizations and other creative enterprises.

Alexis Frasz

Alexis Frasz

Co-Director

Alexis is a writer, cultural anthropologist and divergent thinker, enriching Helicon’s work with perspectives drawn from acupuncture, neuroscience, psychology, design, tai chi, ecology and economics. She has worked as a cultural strategist and consultant for 14 years. She is the director of Helicon’s work on art and environmental sustainability–including convening a cross-sector group of funders and research into the role of culture in advancing sustainability around the U.S. and internationally. She also leads work on individual artists, cultural equity, and art and social change.

She has co-authored a number of important studies for the arts sector including Mapping the Landscape of Socially Engaged Art  (Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, 2017). Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Facing U.S. Artists (Center for Cultural Innovation and the National Endowment for the Arts, 2016), Bright Spot Leadership in the Pacific Northwest (Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, 2012), Artists and the Economic Recession (Leveraging Investments in Creativity, 2010), Critical Issues Facing the Arts in California (James Irvine Foundation, 2006), and Creative New York (Center for an Urban Future, 2004).

Alexis graduated Summa cum Laude from Princeton University with a degree in Cultural Anthropology and has pursued Masters level studies in Chinese Medicine.  She is an advisor to Food Shift, a Bay Area social enterprise working to end food waste and hunger, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. She lives in Oakland.

 

Marcus Renner

Marcus Renner

Affiliate Researcher

Marcus is a freelance educator, organizer, writer, and researcher. He holds a M.S. in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Wisconsin and an M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of California-Riverside. He has experience with grassroots organizing on issues related local food, waste, and energy policy, transportation, sustainable business, neighborhood economic development, and conservation of biodiversity. As an artist, his focus is on writing stories and devising theater that amplifies the voices of community residents and generates dialogue on important issues. He is currently working on a book about the intersection of the community arts with the movement to create sustainable local economies. 

Masum Momaya

Masum Momaya

Affiliate Researcher

Masum Momaya, Ed.D. has more than 15 years of experience as a social justice educator, researcher, writer, grantmaker and museum curator.  Her professional mission is to support advocates, activists, artists and scholars in crossing borders, expanding narratives, offering new expressions, building solidarity and raising difficult conversations.  She draws from her interdisciplinary academic studies at Stanford University and Harvard University, her work for women’s rights at the Third Wave Foundation, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development and the International Museum of Women, experiences of living, traveling and conducting research in 32 countries and most recently her work on narratives of race and immigration at the Smithsonian. Masum lives near Chicago.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” -Buckminster Fuller