A [creative partner] for people and organizations leading cultural and community transformation.

About Us

Helicon collaborates with artists, cultural organizations, foundations and other creative enterprises to make communities better places for all people – more vital, sustainable and just.

We focus primarily on arts and culture but also work with others who care about quality of life in urban planning, parks and open spaces, youth development, climate change and other sectors.

We work to enhance and moblize the power of culture to contribute to a more just, sustainable and beautiful world for all people.

We believe that:

  • Culture is essential to our humanity and to a just and healthy society. It is how we express ourselves and make meaning as individuals and communities. It is a basic right and need, which all people should have the opportunity to create and experience.
  • Culture is also both an agent of and an object of social change. Cultural activities, practices, experiences and products are carriers of our existing social values and norms, and they also have the power to influence and transform how we see, feel, think and act.

We work to ensure equity is valued and practiced among cultural organizations, funders and the nonprofit system overall; to reclaim beauty, meaning, empathy and other intangibles as essential to individual and societal health; and to help claim culture as something that must be sustained and preserved for a society to be just.

Our Services

  • Research
  • Strategy
  • Organization Development
  • Program Design & Management
  • Assessment
  • Coaching

What we do

Sustainability

Sustainability

Sample Projects

Beyond Green: Salzburg

Art and Environment Funding

Beauty

Beauty

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, pop culture, tai chi, ecology and economics. She has worked as a cultural strategist and consultant in the arts for 13 years. She is the director of Helicon’s strategic initiatives on art and environmental sustainability–including working with funders at the intersection of both fields and research into how culture is advancing sustainability solutions 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 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.

We love to partner with other people working to improve communities through culture. Contact us if you see a way we can collaborate.