Director of Newcastle theatre company's community work recognised with statue

Catrina McHugh MBE
Catrina McHugh MBE

The inspirational director of a Newcastle theatre company became the first of 25 women nationally to be commemorated with a statue in recognition of her work in the community.


Catrina McHugh MBE, artistic director of Open Clasp, received her 3D-printed statue inside the Great Hall of Newcastle Castle as part of Put Her Forward, a project organised by Heritage Open Days.


People nominated women whose achievements have inspired, changed and empowered their community. 25 women – spanning every age and background - were chosen to be scanned and printed into statues. 


The project was run as part of the 100th anniversary of women receiving the vote in the UK.

For more than 20 years, Catrina has worked directly with marginalised women in the North East, giving them a voice through new plays created from working with and listening to their experiences.


Open Clasp’s critically acclaimed Key Change was made in collaboration with women in HMP Low Newton, and has won awards and reached thousands of through touring and screenings. 


She said: “I’m very honoured by the statue and I think it represents all of us and our strengths and our fight against oppression.


“We are a small women’s theatre company and we’ve achieved big things and I’m extremely proud.


“There are more statues of goats and mythical female characters than there are of actual women, and this selection of women chosen is quite remarkable.”


Cllr Joyce McCarty, deputy leader of Newcastle City Council, introduced Catrina before her statue was unveiled. She said: “In my role as a councillor I’ve been involved in the work we’ve done to celebrate the 100th anniversary of some women getting the vote and I’m delighted to be here celebrating Catrina’s achievements.


“This project which offers representation of these 25 women is remarkable and I’m delighted because we need things that represent women who do incredible things in their communities.”