[creative partner] for people working

for a more just, creative and sustainable world.

About Us

We believe that social change is a creative process, and culture has transformative power.

We work with artists, cultural leaders, philanthropy, and other sectors who are interested in mobilizing the power of culture and creativity for a more just and sustainable future.

As a society, we are in a time of profound upheaval. It is clear that “business as usual” is not working for most people or the planet, and has not been for some time. But what comes next? And, how do we get there?

A better future will require deep cultural healing and repair of our communities and our environment. It will also require building creative people power, so that we can both imagine a better future and take collective action to make it real.

We work at the intersection of equity, culture, and the environment. All of our projects are co-designed with our partners. We specialize in asking good questions, helping people explore new and complex territory, and developing transformative strategies for change.

Our Services

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

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 researcher, writer, strategic thinker, program designer, and advisor to partners in culture, philanthropy, and the environmental sector working for transformative change and a just transition. She leads Helicon’s work at the intersection of culture and the environment. Her perspective on systems change draws on her artistic practices and diverse background in anthropology, Chinese Medicine, permaculture, and Buddhism. She believes in the need to build solidarity between artists and culture and broader movements working for racial, ecological, and economic justice.

Alexis also teaches on creative civic leadership for artists and non-artists, and is faculty for the cultural leadership program at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Julie’s Bicycle’s Creative Climate Leadership program. Her research on socially engaged artistic practice has informed artist training curriculums and philanthropic programs worldwide. She is actively engaged in Helicon’s ongoing work to address inequities in cultural philanthropy.

Alexis graduated Summa cum Laude from Princeton University with a degree in Cultural Anthropology and has pursued Master’s level study in Chinese Medicine.  She is an advisor of the Public Bank East Bay, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and The Artist’s Literacy’s Institute. She lives in Oakland, where she spends as much time as possible in her garden.

 

 

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