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The Halle Orchestra’s Mark Elder and former Chief Executive of The Place, Kenneth Tharp, are among those receiving top honours in 2017.

Chi-chi Nwanoku
Chi-chi Nwanoku, who was awarded an OBE

Kenneth Tharp, former Chief Executive of dance organisation the Place, has been awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, which are once again credited with being the “most diverse to date”. Of the 1,109 people to receive an award, 50% are women, 10% are from Black or minority ethnic backgrounds, and 6.5% consider themselves to have a disability.

Top honours are distributed to Sir Mark Elder, Music Director at The Hallé Orchestra, and retired ballerina Dame Beryl Grey, who become Members of the Order of the Companions of Honour. Only the Queen and 65 other members may hold the award at any one time.

CBEs have been awarded to 12 people connected with the arts including Vice-President of Scottish Opera, Colin McClatchie; Chairman of The Roundhouse, Christopher Satterthwaite; artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah; and illustrator Raymond Briggs.

Also honoured was Chineke! Foundation founder and Artistic Director Chi-chi Nwanoku, who joins both co-founders of theatre troupe Cheek by Jowl, Nicholas Ormerod and Declan Donnellan, in receiving OBEs. Open Clasp Theatre Company’s Catrina McHugh has been celebrated with an MBE for services to disadvantaged women through theatre, and Albany Art Gallery Director Mary Yapp received the same accolade.

High-profile artists featured prominently in the list, with actresses Julie Walters, Olivia de Havilland and June Whitfield becoming Dames and musicians Emeli Sandé and Ed Sheeran receiving MBEs.

The full list of awards to arts figures:

Members of the Order of the Companions of Honour

  • Sir Terence Conran, for services to design
  • Sir Mark Elder, Music Director for The Hallé Orchestra
  • Dame Beryl Grey
  • Sir Paul McCartney
  • JK Rowling

Knights and Dames

  • George Benjamin, composer
  • Hilary Boulding, for services to education and culture in Wales
  • Carmen Callil, founder of Virago Press
  • Sarah Connolly, mezzo soprano
  • Olivia de Havilland, actress
  • Julie Walters, actress
  • June Whitfield, actress


  • Sade Adu, singer-songwriter and composer
  • John Akomfrah, artist and filmmaker
  • Ronald Blythe, author
  • Raymond Briggs, illustrator
  • Gerald Finley, opera singer
  • Isaac Julien, artist and filmmaker
  • William Mann, for services to sport, recreation, the arts and charity
  • Colin McClatchie, Vice-President of Scottish Opera
  • William Parente, for services to the arts and philanthropy
  • June Spencer, actress
  • Bernard Taylor, for services to business, education and the arts
  • Kenneth Tharp, former Chief Executive of The Place


  • Aubrey Adams, honorary patron and Chair of Wigmore Hall
  • David Dewing, former Director of the Geffrye Museum of the Home
  • Declan Donnellan, co-founder of Cheek by Jowl
  • Keith Getty, composer
  • Patricia Hodge, actress
  • Idris Khan, artist
  • Sarah Lancashire, actress
  • Chi-chi Nwanoku, founder and Artistic Director of Chineke! Foundation
  • Nicholas Ormerod, co-founder of Cheek by Jowl
  • Jillian Ritblat, for services to arts philanthropy
  • Sandeep Virdee, founder and Director of Darbar Arts Culture and Heritage Trust
  • David Walliams, for services to charity and the arts
  • Roderick Williams, baritone and composer


  • Amma Asante, screenwriter and director
  • Anne Binney, for services to wildlife and the arts
  • Karen Bryson, actress
  • Anthony Crane, for services to music, charity and the community in Merseyside
  • Ian Dean, for services to music
  • Gillian Dinsmore, former Vice-Chair of Music in Hospitals UK and Convenor Music in Hospitals Scotland
  • Claire Garnett, founder of Peebles Orchestra and Peebles Youth Orchestra
  • Sahana Gero, for services to music and the community in south London
  • Romayne Grigorova, for services to dance
  • Ian Imlay, organist
  • Rosemary Johnston, for services to music
  • Vikas Kumar, for services to the arts and culture
  • Sue Lister, for services to equality, diversity and the arts in Yorkshire
  • Chris Macmeikan, for services to the music festival and live events industry.
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw, actress
  • Catrina McHugh, for services to disadvantaged women through theatre
  • David Morlidge, for services to the arts and the community in Bolton
  • Eunice Olumide, for services to broadcasting, the arts and charity
  • John ‘Jack’ Ryan, for services to art
  • Emeli Sandé, musician
  • Tim Sayer, for services to art and philanthropy
  • Sandie Shaw, singer
  • Ed Sheeran, musician
  • Christopher Shurety, for services to music
  • James Stretton, lately Chairman of Lammermuir Festival
  • Deepak Verma, actor
  • Mary Yapp, Director of Albany Art Gallery