City of Culture trio recognised in the Queens Birthday Honours List - The Coventry Observer

City of Culture trio recognised in the Queens Birthday Honours List

Coventry Editorial 2nd Jun, 2022   0

THREE of the key figures behind the success of Coventry’s UK City of Culture year have been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

The City of Culture Trust’s chief executive Martin Sutherland will be given an OBE for his services to culture, as well as for his role in the economic and social regeneration in Coventry.

The Trust’s creative director Chenine Bhathena and its director of audience strategy Laura McMillan have both been honoured with an MBE in recognition of their service to culture and the local community.

Martin Sutherland joined the Trust in 2018 and during his time in the role the City of Culture programme has delivered major skills, training, and volunteering activities that have strengthened the cultural and community sector following the pandemic.




Mr Sutherland is also chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Cultural Leadership Board which he was invited to establish by Mayor Andy Street.

He said: “From day one we aimed to deliver a UK City of Culture year that was created with and included all communities in the city and brought lasting social and economic benefit to Coventry and its citizens.


“It meant delivering a very different UK City of Culture than those that had gone before, and that was made more challenging with Covid. It is a great tribute to everyone involved that we were able to deliver on so many of our promises to the city.

“I am grateful that our work has been recognised in this way”.

Before joining the Trust, Chenine Bhathena worked as Senior Culture Manager for the Greater London Authority, where she worked as London 2012’s creative programmer to deliver the city’s biggest ever outdoor festival.

She has been a key driving force behind the City of Culture’s creative programme, including bringing national and international creative partnerships to Coventry and developing broadcast opportunities with the BBC and Sky.

Chenine said: “I don’t think any city other than Coventry – with its history of resilience and its indomitable spirit – could have made a success of UK City of Culture in such difficult times.

“We built a caring, collaborative and dynamic City of Culture programme, that was co-created and shaped by our many different citizens that have shared our evolving identity as a pioneering and inclusive 21st-century city.

“I am proud that we are the first city of culture to put social activism at the heart and am forever thankful to the work of our brilliant team.”

The City of Culture Trust’s first employee back in 2015, Laura McMillan joined as bid coordinator and was part of the team that delivered the successful presentation to the judges.

She is also on Coventry’s destination management organisation and regional tourism boards, with her previous positions including roles at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Warwick Castle.

Laura said: “It has been a unique opportunity to work on such a transformative project, in a city I have made my home, and it’s been a privilege to work alongside such a talented and committed team.

“Having been involved from the start of this journey it’s been incredible to watch how the city has changed and I’ve enjoyed every moment of seeing audiences enjoying City of Culture events.”

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