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Birmingham Post Power 250: Culture

The ten people listed as the most influential in the West Midlands from the world of culture

Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla
Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla

Fiona Allen, Birmingham Hippodrome

Fiona Allen became chief executive of Birmingham Hippodrome last year, moving from Leicester’s Curve, where she oversaw the development of a daytime programme of free performances and workshops. Before that she was chief executive of the Sydney Film Festival and artistic director of the Wales Millennium Centre.

Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, CBSO

Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla doesn’t take up her post as musical director and chief conductor of the CBSO until September but already her appointment is causing a stir. The 29-year-old Lithuanian assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic is thrilling audiences with her distinctive style of conducting and her arrival is eagerly anticipated. She is likely to confirm the CBSO’s reputation for spotting and nurturing young talent.

Coun Penny Holbrook, Birmingham City Council

Councillor Penny Holbrook, Birmingham City Council cabinet member for skills, learning and culture.
Councillor Penny Holbrook, Birmingham City Council cabinet member for skills, learning and culture.

Councillor Penny Holbrook, who has been on the city council since 2003 and represents Stockland Green ward, is Birmingham’s cabinet member for skills, learning and culture. Her brief includes responsibility for the Library of Birmingham and she was behind the development of the Birmingham Youth Promise – a pledge to find a job or training for every young person in the city.

Lee Child, novelist

Coventry-born Lee Child grew up in Birmingham before studying law and spending 18 years as a director with Granada Television. He was 40 before he began writing and his first book - Killing Floor - which introduced hero Jack Reacher, was an immediate success. Many top-selling books later, he won the Crime Writers Association Diamond Dagger in 2013. He has sold well over 100 million books.

Adil Ray, comedian

Adil Ray is probably best known as the creator and star of hit BBC comedy Citizen Khan, but he is also an accomplished broadcaster and presenter with two decades’ experience in television and radio, presenting serious documentaries and travel programmes across all BBC networks, including a Royal Television Society award-winning documentary on the controversial subject of young girls being groomed by some Pakistani men.

Jonathan Watkins, Ikon Gallery

'A Real Birmingham Family' statue has been unveiled outside the Library of Birmingham. Director of Ikon Jonathan Watkins
Director of Ikon Jonathan Watkins

Jonathan Watkins has been director of the Ikon Gallery since 1999 and has cemented its reputation for promoting contemporary art. Before coming to Birmingham he was curator of galleries in London. He has curated a number of large international art exhibitions and has written extensively on contemporary art.

Sir Lenny Henry

Dudley-born Comic Relief co-founder Lenny Henry was knighted in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours. The multi-talented comedian, actor and writer has helped Comic Relief raise more than £1 billion over three decades and has also led a campaign for greater diversity on British television. He first found fame on TV talenet show New Faces in 1975. His work since then has encompassed everything from children’s television to Shakespeare.

Steven Knight, screenwriter

Birmingham-born writer and director Steven Knight is probably best known for creating the hard-hitting city-based TV series Peaky Blinders, bjut that represents a small piece of his extensive which include the co-creation of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. His film screenplays include Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises and Closed Circuit. He also wrote and directed some episodes of 90s TV series The Detectives which featured Jasper Carrott.

Julian Lloyd Webber, Birmingham Conservatoire

Virtuoso cellist Julian Lloyd Webber is the principal of the widely regarded Birmingham Conservatoire. A Royal College of Music scholar, he has worked with the world’s finest musicians including Yehudi Menuhin and Sir George Solti. Married to fellow cellist Jiaxin Cheng, he was the only classical musician to perform at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012.

Jan Teo, Birmingham Royal Ballet

Jan Teo was appointed as chief executive of Birmingham Royal Ballet last June after serving on the board for two years. Independent of the Royal Ballet, the Birmingham Royal Ballet is one of the UK’s four major ballet companies. Jan Teo is a director of Birmingham Museums Trust, she has played an key part in the Deutsche Bank Creative Awards and the Women in European Business diversity group.

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