Helium team

Helene Hugel, CEO and Artistic Director

Photo pf Helene Hugel

Helene Hugel is CEO and Artistic Director of Helium. Helene began her professional career as a puppeteer in 1997, as co-founder and partner of the award winning Púca Puppets. She became freelance at the end of 2002 to specialise in the dynamic field of arts and health and commit her work practice to exploring the untapped potential of applying the art of puppetry to the unique needs of healthcare communities and their environments. She gained a qualification in Hospital Play Specialism and worked part-time as a member of Clown Doctors Northern Ireland for five years. In 2009, Helene founded Helium in order to overcome the limitations of her own practice, to provide a structure for collaborating with other artists and healthcare practitioners and providers, and to extend the work’s impact to more children and young people across Ireland.

Avril Carr, Project Manager 

President Michael D. Higgins presents the Awards Sculpture to Avril Carr, Helium, and Gilles de Decker of BNP Paribas

Avril joined Helium in 2009 and currently manages the artist in residence and early year programmes. Prior to joining Helium, she worked as theatre and literature programmer at The Ark before moving to the West and taking on the role of Arts Education & Development Coordinator with Roscommon County Council Arts Office. Avril is the coordinator of Roscommon County Youth Orchestra and has also worked as a freelance administrator / production manager with Monkeyshine Theatre. She has a B.Ed from St Patrick’s College Drumcondra and a postgraduate diploma in Cultural Event Management from IADT.

Emma Eager, Communications Officer and Project Manager 

Emma E

Emma Eager is Helium’s Communications Officer and manages the Two Suitcases community film project for teenagers living with illness. Emma was previously Acting Editor of artsandhealth.ie, the national website for arts and health in Ireland, and is currently artsandhealth.ie Case Studies Editor. Emma graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a B.Sc. in Communications: Film and Broadcasting and with an M.Phil. in Popular Literature.


Anna McCarthy, Development Co-ordinator 

Anna McCarthy joined the Helium team in 2014. Anna studied event management before undertaking a BA in Sociology and French. In 2009, she established Luminous Live Events, providing a platform for creative expression and social engagement among creative communities. In 2012, an interest in organisational sustainability and self-sufficiency became the focus of research carried out for UCD’s MA in Cultural Policy & Arts Management. As part of the course, she completed a placement in Business to Arts, gaining insight into strategies for fundraising and revenue generation in the nonprofit arts sector.


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