President and Principal Consultant
While Sherri Helwig’s professional activities are diverse and many, they stem from an all-encompassing interest in and commitment to the preservation, promotion, enhancement and advancement of the arts and education in Canada.
Sherri Helwig (B.A., M.A.) has been an independent consultant with her own practice since 1992 (registered as “S.L. Helwig & Associates” in 1996). She is a Founding Member of Arts Consultants Canada / Consultants canadiens en arts (ACCA), the nationally-recognized professional association dedicated to advancing ethical and effective consulting in Canada’s arts and culture sector.
Sherri’s consulting work is informed by more than twenty-five years of progressively responsible cultural management experience which includes eight years serving as Executive Director of national arts service organizations, often in the first or only paid position and during times of dynamic change. In these leadership positions, Sherri was responsible for delivering a wide range of membership, advocacy, and project initiatives, managing collective bargaining negotiations, leading presentations to federal and provincial tribunals, overseeing partnership development plans, working with all levels of government, and securing record heights of public and private sector support.
Her experience includes service on several boards of directors (including the international Association of Arts Administration Educators, the City of Toronto’s Museum Collections and Conservation Management Board, and the Necessary Angel Theatre Company) as well as working groups and national advisory committees for the Department of Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada, among others. She has professional experience in such diverse areas as program evaluation, information technology planning and design, not-for-profit governance, art appraising, writing, curating, marketing, strategic planning, group facilitation, fundraising, and education.
As a faculty member for the Arts Management Specialist Program at the University of Toronto Scarborough, Sherri develops curriculum for and teaches practice- and policy-related courses. She also directed the program for more than a decade, and served two terms as Associate Chair of the Department of Arts, Culture and Media (and one term with the Department of Humanities before that), coordinating curriculum and experiential education efforts across several programs. During a 2016-2017 sabbatical from the university she worked on a variety of research, writing, evaluation, and consulting projects, and served as Interim Executive Director/Curator of the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington, a public gallery dedicated to arts education and the exhibition of contemporary art; a previous sabbatical (2010-2011) found Sherri serving as a Scholar-in-Residence at American University in Washington D.C. and Senior Research Fellow with the Canadian Conference of the Arts. She has previously taught for York University, Humber College, and the Harris Institute, and has lectured extensively across Canada and within the United States, Italy, Finland, Spain and The Netherlands on subjects ranging from cultural entrepreneurship to comparative copyright policies to the impact and use of digital technologies to support, preserve and share creative production.
Sherri holds a certificate in Museum Studies from the Canadian Museums Association, a certificate in Program Evaluation from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Centre for Communications, an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Fine Art (History and Studio) and English from the University of Guelph, and a Master of Arts degree in the History of Art from the University of Toronto, with further studies in areas including Entrepreneurship, Management, Arts Education, and Leadership.
From an article entitled “Consultant draws business picture for arts groups” (The Globe and Mail, Monday June 21, 1999): Sherri “focuses on providing practical, understandable advice … rather than just forcing traditional business ideas into the cultural situation.” The article goes on to explain that her clients work within a system of financial and other constraints which, while problematic, often “create opportunities as groups are forced to find ways to become more effective and efficient. Enter the consultant with some advice.”
Other Associate Consultants are brought in on specific projects when additional or specialized services are required. SLH&A’s network is wide, diverse, and strong, and great care is taken to match the needs of the client with the qualifications and specialties of the consultants.