Director of Performing Arts
Charles Helm has been director of performing arts since 1991 (two years after the center opened). During this time, Helm has built the center’s profile in the performing arts field nationally and internationally, regularly spearheading tours and organizing co-commissioning consortia. The Wexner Center’s performing arts program was the first university-based program funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s prestigious Leadership Presenting Institutions program—with a matching grant of $1.5 million to build a performing arts program endowment to support its creative laboratory work, commissioning initiatives, and program expansion. He has organized creative residency and commissioning projects that subsequently toured widely for artists such as Young Jean Lee, Improbable Theater, Bebe Miller, Meg Stuart, The Wooster Group, SITI Company, Akram Khan, Richard Maxwell, The Builders Association, Bill Frisell, Savion Glover, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, among many others. These model creative residency projects, integrating the exchange of ideas between artists and students, have advanced the understanding of how such initiatives serve the research mission of leading universities—a concept that has had an impact on the national re-examination of the role of the arts on campuses, contributing to today’s “Creative Campus” movement.
Helm also regularly serves as a panelist for regional and national arts agencies and foundations, and represents the Wexner Center at the Major University Presenters network, Contemporary Art Centers network, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and the National Performance Network. The Wexner Center has also served as a Hub Site for the National Dance Project.
In the spring of 2009, Helm curated William Forsythe: Transfigurations, the first U.S. exhibition of the video and installation-based work of the vanguard choreographer that also featured the new web project that Forsythe developed at Ohio State. In 1999, Helm co-curated, with Wexner Center director Sherri Geldin, the exhibition Julie Taymor: Playing with Fire, the first major retrospective exhibition of one of today’s foremost stage innovators, which subsequently toured nationally.
Prior to coming to the Wexner Center, Helm worked at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.