Dear members, partners and friends,

Today with our newsletter, we want to connect with you, our supporters, to let you know we are here. To tell you what we are doing and ask what you would like to see from Open Clasp?

We have had to change plans and the programme is changing as we work out what is possible and not. We have prioritised our communities supporting the West End Women and Girls ‘Scran 4 the Fam’ scheme. Reaching out beyond our core team to the women who collaborate, make and perform our work and sharing Key Change across the globe by making it free to watch on our website.

We are a healthy and resilient organisation thanks to fantastic funders and supporters and we do not face any urgent crisis.

Here Catrina shares what we have been up to;

Before this moment, the distancing and lockdown, Open Clasp had just had a premier of Sugar, our new theatrical piece for film, which was showcased at Live Theatre. Sugar received rave and four-star reviews, accolade and visibility for the women we had worked with, those on probation, in prison and homeless.  We were planning Sugar’s general release in cinemas and theatres in June and working with partners to program a UK tour of don’t forget the birds in October/November (we still are).  We were about to complete our fifth session with people in recovery from addictions, using our methodology to support discussion and debate, building confidence and self-esteem, recognising, celebrating and valuing the strength and honesty in the room.

Our consultation and research with Two Camps, an international project with partners in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand was underway, planes and trains booked, now put on hold.  But only on hold.

I received a text earlier in the lockdown asking if we were ok, and I said yes, but it occurred to me (us) that we need to let people know what we are doing.

Our response to this moment, was to unplug our computers, find wires, mics and set up Skype, but to also look for the opportunities and to count our blessings. We had already been working digitally with many of our productions and we had Key Change sitting there. Just before the lockdown we released the film online for all to watch, share and enjoy.  As the crisis hit harder, we realised it gave us an opportunity to support the voices of women on lockdown in prison, locally in HMP Low Newton and globally.  (Click HERE to read more).
We’ve been busy updating our Education Pack so it’s of use for those studying at home, as well as supporting youth and community centres as they continue to work with groups online.

The pandemic is a global threat but this crisis has exposed and made visible the threat of domestic violence, for many the threat is inside as well as out.  Rattle Snake is available and here for anyone to use, please see guidance here: ‘Coronavirus lockdown is a dangerous time for victims of domestic abuse – here is what you need to know’ 

We also have other digital assets, such as Love Should Never Be Abusive, highlighting abuse in LGBT communities and Jumping Puddles with its focus on young women.    Our community is both local and global.  Our office sits in the heart of the West End of Newcastle at West End Women & Girls Centre and we have our team volunteering with their soup run, which is currently reaching 50 isolated people per day and rising.
In addition to this we are supporting the centres YouTube channel offering online writing and drama workshops.

Where possible we are supporting our freelance/creative teams, honouring commitments as well as looking at ways to commission and create.

Our Associate Director Laura Lindow is prepping to deliver a Zoom lecture to students in New York City, looking at Key Change and the process to create both the play and film of the play. We are reaching out to our partners across the world, checking in and looking to a new horizon.

Laura Lindow often talks about building scaffolding during rehearsals and this is something we feel Open Clasp are doing and doing well. Something I’ve heard recently, that in this moment you can find that when one member of the teams falls, another comes and stands at the front and takes the strain. This has definitely been the reality for our team. Like you we have families at a distance, and it can feel really hard, but we are there for each other and for Open Clasp.

The new horizon will involve a big party, balloons, hugging and celebration.  But for now, we are fortunate that we can still change the world from our homes, and we celebrate the opportunities we are realising.

You are our family; we will be there for you and we know you will be there for us too.

Keep safe, strong and active

Love and respect, Catrina McHugh MBE

We want to #StayConnected so however you want to do it, get in touch. We want to hear from you. 

The Open Clasp Team