• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email

Cultural leaders, artistic directors and performers among those recognised in King's New Year Honours.

Clockwise from top left: Stuart Murphy, Ruth Hannant, Polly Payne, Dr Phil George and Elaine Bedell
Clockwise from the top left: Stuart Murphy, Ruth Hannant, Polly Payne, Dr Phil George and Elaine Bedell

The former Chief Executive of English National Opera (ENO), Stuart Murphy, and former Chair of Arts Council Wales, Phillip George, are among scores of people to have been recognised for their contributions to the arts in the King’s New Year Honours list.

Awarded CBEs, George and Murphy are among nearly 90 figures within the arts and culture sector to be honoured, a marked increase on last year when there were around 60.

Murphy left ENO in September 2023 after five years, following Arts Council England’s decision to defund the organisation unless it relocated outside of London, a move he said he "fundamentally disagreed" with in his departing letter. 


Other notable recipients include the former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Gregory Doran, Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis, and the artist Brian Clarke, all of whom have received knighthoods.

Doran, who stepped down from his post at the RSC in April 2022 after 35 years with the company, said he felt “privileged” to have spent his career “working with the very greatest company dedicated to [Shakespeare’s] work”.

Among those accepting OBEs are James Ainscough, former Chief Executive of Help Musicians and new Chief Executive of the Royal Albert Hall, Elaine Bedell, Chief Executive of the Southbank Centre and Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery.

Writing on LinkedIn, Ainscough said the acknowledgement of his work at Help Musicians, particularly during the pandemic, “underlines how vital it is for us all to support professional musicians, who create the soundtrack to our lives, yet face precarious and low-paid careers”.

'Proud and grateful'

Also recognised for their work in music was Michael Eakin, Chief Executive of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Eakin, who leads music outreach programmes in the city, told the BBC he was "proud and grateful" to be rewarded with an OBE for his services to music and the community.

The scheme also sees musicians helping people living with mental health issues make their own music, providing "an incredibly powerful way" for them to express themselves.

He added: "I am privileged to work with an incredible team of colleagues, and this award is as much a recognition for their work and dedication as it is for me."

Meanwhile, Stephen Fischbacher, who founded Fischy Music, a mental health and well-being charity for young people, will receive an MBE for his work using music and songwriting to provide mental health and well-being support to children in Scotland.

Dance recognition

Several professionals within the field of dance received nods, including Solange Urdang, who has been appointed an OBE for services to Dance and Musical Theatre and Carl Campbell, Founder and Artistic Director of CCDC7, who was awarded an MBE for services to African Caribbean Dance Education and Culture.

CEO and Founder of The Dang Studios and Co-Founder/Director of the Black British Theatre Awards, Urdang was, until recently, CEO of Urdang Academy, the Covent Garden dance school founded by her late mother, Leonie Urdang, in 1978.

Urdang said she was “touched” to be included in this year's honours list. She said: “The theatre sector is fragile at this time, as are the training institutes that strive for excellence. I can sincerely say my passion for making a change in dance and musical theatre is relentless. 

“I hope this acknowledgement will help open conversations to redress the lack of representation in this globally recognised and resilient industry I am proud to be part of.”

Civil service

There were also honours for senior civil servants in the  Department of Culture, Media and Sport, including Director Generals Ruth Hannant and Polly Payne. Hannant and Payne, who share the role, have both been made a Companion of the Order of the Bath.

The colleagues have been job-sharing various roles for 12 years. They took up their current post in March 2021, with responsibilities including arts, heritage and museums, tourism, the Government Art Collection and National Archives.

See below for a list of award winners cited for their service in the arts. The complete list of 2024 honours can be found here.


Gregory Doran, former Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company
Michael Eavis, Founder of Glastonbury Festival
Brian Clarke Artist

Order of the Companions of Honour Members of the Order of the Companions of Honour

Shirley Bassey, for services to music 

Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire 

Judith Weir, Master of the King's Music

Companions of the Order of the Bath 

Ruth Hannant, Director General, Policy, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Polly Payne, Director General, Policy, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

Phillip George, former Chair of Arts Council of Wales
Stuart Murphy, former Chief Executive English National Opera
Lady Victoria Susan Robey, former Chair of the London Philharmonic Orchestra 
Simon Regis, Deputy Director, DCMS Legal Advisers 
Richard Broyd, Philanthropist, for services to Heritage and Conservation 
Professor Sonia Boyce, Artist
Catherine Anne Goodman, Artist and Educator
Don Black, Lyricist, for services to music

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Nicholas Cullinan,  Director, National Portrait Gallery
Elaine Bedell, Chief Executive Officer, Southbank Centre
Neil Constable, former Chief Executive Officer of Shakespeare's Globe
James Ainscough, former Chief Executive Officer Help Musicians
Michael Eakin, Chief Executive, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
Christopher Blandford, President, World Heritage UK
Josie Dobrin, Creative Access Co-founder
Nicholas Merriman, Chief Executive, The Horniman Museum and Gardens
Solange Urdang, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, The Dang Studios 
Dr Oliver Ford Davis, Actor
Alexander Reedijk, General Director, Scottish Opera
Morag Deyes, Artistic Director, Dance Base, Edinburgh
Betsy Gregory, Dancer and Director
Paul Burger, Founder and Partner, Soho Artists
Laurence Cummings, Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music
Carolyn Sampson, Soprano
Julian Richards, Professor of Archaeology, University of York, for services to heritage and digital archiving
Sophia Mason, Trustee, Garfield Weston Foundation
Mildred Palley, for services to the arts and to education 
Brian Gorski, for services to museums and to the community in Bury, Greater Manchester
Charles Mackesy, Artist, Illustrator and Author
Marc Steene, Founder and Director, Outside In Art
Yvette Griffith, Co-Chief Executive, Jazz re:freshed and Founding Trustee, Black Funding Network

Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Alexandra Vincent, former Chief Operating Officer of the Arts and Humanities Research Council
Catherine Fall, former Non-Executive Director Cultural Recovery Board
Jill Alcock, Founder, Jill Clewes Academy for Theatre Arts
Andrew Liddell, for services to theatre and the arts in Scotland
Emma Wilson, Director of Technical, Production and Costume, Royal Opera House
Neil Greenwood, Executive Director, Finance and Corporate Services, Natural History Museum
Robert Martin, Actor, for services to drama in Northern Ireland 
Carolene Sargeant, for services to Dance 
Chitraleka Bolar, dancer, choreographer and teacher
Carl Campbell, Founder and Artistic Director, CCDC7, for services to African Caribbean Dance Education
Huw Edwards, Founder Member, Monmouth Male Voice Choir
Ashley Fulton, vocal coach and musical director 
Anna Lapwood, Organist 
Blair Parham, Director of Music and Principal Conductor, Scottish Fiddle Orchestra
Selina Webb, Executive Vice President, Universal Music UK
Carla Williams, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Girls I Rate, for services to music 
Allan Young, Head of Instrumental Music, Perth and Kinross
Steven Miller, Director of Culture and Heritage and Head of Norfolk Museums Service, Norfolk County Council
Nicholas Hill, National Conservation Projects Manager
Valda Harris, Artist
Jayshree Rajkotia, Trustee and Vice Chair, Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, Institute of Indian Art and Culture
Nathaniel Hepburn, Director and Chief Executive, Charleston
Stephen Moffitt, Chief Executive Officer, A New Direction
Bolanle Tajudeen, Founder and Director, Bolanle Contemporary
Arabella Weir, Artistic Director, Kirkcaldy Festival of Ideas 
Joan Winterkorn, Archive and Manuscript Consultant and Member, Acceptance in Lieu Panel, Arts Council England
Lanré Olagoke, Founder, Art-Alive Arts Trust
Margaret Fingerhut, for services to music and charitable fundraising 
Belinda Gray, Founder, Art for Cure
Sara Browne, for services to the arts and to the community in Southend-on-Sea
Rachel Cowgill, Professor of Music, University of York, for services to culture, education and the Arts
Roselind Sinclair, Lecturer in Design Education, Goldsmiths, University of London
Julie Felix, for services to Dance Education 
Stephen Fischbacher, founding director Fischy Music
Stephen Sorrell, Director, Small Things Creative Projects Community Interest Company

Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM)

Norah Button-Brookwell, Founder and Principal, Liverpool Theatre School
Shendl Harvey, Teacher and Dancer, Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland DancingPamela Mary Scull, Founder Principal, Wingfield School of Ballet and Dance
Margaret Archibald, Founder, Everyone Matters, for services to music 
William Hutton, Founder, Campsie Accordion and Fiddle Club
Christopher Kent, Organist
William Watson, Director, Great North Big Band Jazz Festival
Martin White, for services to Music in Northern Ireland 
Jonathan Willcocks, Musical Director, The Chichester Singers
Peter Clemson, Founder and Chair, Little Theatre Company
Robert Fyfe, Chair and Director, Runway Theatre Company
Melanie Gardner, Fine and Decorative Arts Curator, Tullie House Museum, Carlisle
Beth Gevell, Co-Founder and Director Arts for Life Project 
Douglas Turner, Community Development Worker, Second Wave Centre for Youth Arts
Medallists of the Order of the British Empire 
Bernard Vause, for services to music and to the community in Morecambe

For any omissions please contact editors@artsprofessional.co.uk.

A headshot of Mary Stone