Actor Emma Thompson and Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare are among the arts figures granted honours.

Photo of actor Sarah Gordy
Actor Sarah Gordy was awarded an MBE for ‘services to the arts and people with disabilities’.
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Bush Theatre

The former Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East, Kerry Michael, actor Emma Thompson and Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid are among the arts figures recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours this year. 

Soprano Kiri Te Kanawa is the only arts leader to be granted the prestigious Members of the Order of Companions of Honour award, which may only be held by 65 people and the Queen at any one time.

Theatre, literature and arts personalities are well-represented among the new Dames and Knights. They include Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Arts Charles Saumarez Smith; former Director of the Horniman Museum Janet Vitmayer; and author Kazuo Ishiguro. Also knighted is philanthropist Lloyd Dorfman, whose financial support enabled the creation of a new performance space at the National Theatre.

Gillian Moore, Director of Music at the Southbank Centre, and Kevin O’Hare, Director of the Royal Ballet, are among the 11 arts figures to be awarded a CBE.

Amongst those to receive an OBE is Professor John Last, Vice Chancellor of Norwich University of the Arts, whose recent academic paper urged the Government to offer creative subjects “parity of esteem” with STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). OBEs have also been awarded to Sally Tallant, Director of Liverpool Biennial; Diana Owen, former Director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust; and Paul Roseby, CEO and Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain.

In addition, actor Sarah Gordy, Mencap’s first celebrity ambassador with a learning disability, was awarded an MBE for ‘services to the arts and people with disabilities’.

She commented: “I am so surprised and thrilled to receive such an honour. I am hoping it will be an inspiration to young people with disabilities and their parents. 

“I have been a professional actor for 17 years and I am pleased to say things are beginning to change. My industry has started to understand that diversity is an opportunity not a problem.”

The full list of those honoured for services to the arts is as follows:

Members of the Order of Companions of Honour

  • Soprano Kiri Te Kanawa

Dames and Knighthoods

  • Professor Mary Beard
  • Philanthropist Lloyd Dorfman
  • Author Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Baritone Simon Keenlyside
  • Charles Saumarez Smith, Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of the Arts
  • Broadcaster Simon Schama
  • Actor Emma Thompson
  • Janet Vitmayer, formerly Chief Executive of the Horniman Museum

CBEs

  • Composer Thomas Adès
  • Author Ken Follett
  • Writer Bamber Gascoigne 
  • Actor Tom Hardy 
  • Artist Lubaina Himid
  • Kanya King, CEO and founder of MOBO
  • Gillian Moore, Director of Music at the Southbank Centre
  • Kevin O’Hare, Director of the Royal Ballet
  • Writer and philanthropist Hannah Rothschild
  • Writer Jeanette Winterson

OBEs

  • Curator Gus Casely-Hayford
  • Mezzo soprano Alice Coote
  • Theatre director Marianne Elliott
  • Actor Fenella Fielding
  • Musician Julian Joseph
  • Actor Keira Knightley 
  • Professor John Last, Vice Chancellor of Norwich University of the Arts
  • Screenwriter Abi Morgan
  • Theatre producer Caro Newling
  • Diana Owen, formerly Director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
  • Paul Roseby, CEO and Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain
  • Sally Tallant, Director of Liverpool Biennial 
  • Composer and conductor Debbie Wiseman
  • Artist Agnes Wylie

MBEs

  • Dancer Gary Avis
  • Actor Tim Bentinck
  • Poet Kate Clanchy
  • Kate Cross, Director of the egg at Theatre Royal Bath
  • Rapper and record producer Ms. Dynamite 
  • Susanna Eastburn, Chief Executive of Sound and Music
  • Barry Farrimond, Chief Executive of OpenUp Music
  • Alasdair Gillies, Chair of the Gaelic Language Promotion Trust
  • Actor Sarah Gordy
  • Rosemary Irwin, Chair of Gilbert White & The Oates Collection
  • Veronica Jobbins, Head of Learning and Participation (Dance) at Trinity Laban
  • Rosemary Johnson, Executive Director of the Royal Philharmonic Society
  • Vivienne Littlechild, formerly Chairman of the Culture Committee at the City of London Corporation
  • Kerry Michael, formerly Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East 
  • Valerie Munro, Trustee and former Chair of North Edinburgh Arts
  • Nick Peacey, Chair of Lauderdale House
  • Gaelic singer and music teacher Christine Primrose
  • Musician Orphy Robinson
  • Jazz trombonist Dennis Rollins
  • Curator Jane Sellers
  • Vanessa Swann, formerly Chief Executive of Cockpit Arts
  • Ingrid Swenson, Director of PEER
  • Musician Robert Tait
  • Choreographer Alpana Taylor
  • Poet and Playwright Louise Wallwein
  • Singer and actor Gary Wilmot
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