Helix Arts logo
Arts and Media Co-production with everyone.
Whatever your age, ability or circumstance.
Helix Arts logo
Arts and Media Co-production with everyone.
Whatever your age, ability or circumstance.

Our History

Helix Arts was born on Wearside in 1983 and was originally known as Artists' Agency. Our founder, Lucy Fairley, died Monday 19 September 2016. The staff and trustees of Helix Arts continue to be inspired by her original vision for our work. She will be much missed by the arts community.

The decision to become Helix Arts was taken when Lucy had finally had enough of being asked if she had any clowns on her books!

Lucy had run her own gallery in London and was frustrated that only the wealthy seemed to cross the doors. A move to the North East meant she could fulfil her dream of encouraging wider participation in the arts. She started by visiting a local steel works.

"I suggested they donate some steel which they were happy to do. I then approached Northern Arts to say I had thousands of pounds of steel for a public art sculpture but no money to recruit an artist to undertake a residency in the steel plant. Northern Arts gave me a grant and so that is how our organisation came into being.”

Esther Salamon was a community worker and she joined Lucy as Co-Director a little later.

“We felt that my grass roots experience combined with Lucy’s creative drive could combine to lead an arts organisation that would make a real difference to the lives of North East communities. People’s health and well-being improved and we were also helping them develop skills, confidence and motivation to move on in their lives. Artists, participants and the two of us just had a brilliant time. It was ground breaking - we were all producing fantastic art work.”

At Helix Arts we plan to build an archive of the many and varied creative programmes we’ve run right across the North East over the last 32 years. Week by week we’ll be adding to the stories Lucy and Esther have told us about the early days.

Animator Sheila Graber worked with Helix Arts several times over the years and she has recently posted a film that she and Lucy made together in 1992. You can watch it here.

Do tell us your Helix Arts story! Email: [email protected]

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