Unlock the talent inside

Since 1962 the Koestler Awards have played a unique, national role in motivating prisoners, secure hospital patients and immigration detainees to take part in the arts. The Koestler Awards are simple and powerful – we reward achievement, build self-confidence and broaden horizons for some of society’s most disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Our work harnesses the uniquely transformative power of the arts to help individuals learn the skills and gain the confidence to live creative, positive and productive lives. Each year we receive more than 7,000 entries from over 3,500 entrants across the UK in 52 categories. More than 2,000 Awards are granted by over 100 esteemed judges, and each year culminates in a curated exhibition at Southbank Centre which showcases the incredible power of the arts to transform lives.

Read more about us

  • Jobs and Volunteering

Jobs and volunteering

  • Koestler Arts and Ban the Box

    Statement from Sally Taylor, Chief Executive

    Koestler Arts is an inclusive organisation and actively promotes equality. We endorse the ethos of Ban the Box through our own system of positively encouraging applications from people with criminal convictions. We welcome applications from a wide range of candidates, particularly those who have lived experience of the criminal justice system, and offer guaranteed interviews for paid roles to those who have been in prison or on a community sentence in the last 2 years and who meet all the ‘essential’ person specification criteria.

Current opportunities

Ex-Prisoner Exhibition Hosts

We are looking to recruit a group of ex-prisoners to invigilate our national exhibition at Southbank Centre, alongside Southbank Centre’s own Host Team, 7 days a week for the eight-week run. Our Exhibition Hosts enhance the public’s experience of the exhibition, and the role provides participants with a strong piece of work experience for their CV and a chance to develop new skills and build up their confidence for future employment.

The role involves standard invigilation duties – welcoming visitors to the exhibition, ensuring their safety and security, handing out exhibition guides, voting cards and providing advice on the sales of works plus much more:

  • Conducting tours of the exhibition
  • Working in the exhibition’s Pop-up Shop
  • Learning customer service and team-working skills
  • Providing an exceptional visitor experience of the exhibition
  • The opportunity to be involved ‘behind the scenes’ in the exhibition process – from installation to de-installation

We are looking for people who are able to give varied availability during the exhibition run – 27th October to the 18th December 2022 – and you would also need to be available for 7 training days (for which you will be paid) prior to the exhibition’s official public opening on Thursday 27th October 2022.

Working hours will be for a minimum of 8 hours per week and you may be offered work on any day of the week including Saturdays, Sundays, evenings and bank holidays. You will be employed by Koestler Arts on a temporary contract for an hourly rate of £11.05 per hour.

This employment opportunity is a bit different from many others as we are specifically looking to recruit people with convictions. Southbank Centre support initiatives such as ‘Ban the Box’ which encourages employers not to ask about convictions prior to interview, however as the successful candidates will be Koestler Arts employees, who will be publicly identified as Ex-Prisoner Exhibition Hosts, we are asking for people to disclose their convictions upon application. This is because people who have committed certain types of offences would not be allowed to work in this role. For more information, please see our Frequently Asked Questions document and Job Description below.

To apply, please send a completed application form to sarah@koestlerarts.org.uk by 9am on Wednesday 7th September. Interviews will be held on Wednesday 14th September and Thursday 15th September.

Job Description [PDF]
Frequently Asked Questions [PDF]
Application Form

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the role further, please contact Sarah Matheve at Koestler Arts:
sarah@koestlerarts.org.uk, 020 8740 0333 or 07435 781 843

Arts Team Volunteers

Unfortunately we don’t have any volunteering opportunities at present. As soon as volunteer positions become available we will update this page.

Koestler Arts runs an annual Awards that structure our team’s calendar, meaning that our responsibilities change throughout the year. Volunteers will have an opportunity to experience different roles and activities depending on the period that they spend with us.

Below is a simplified timeline to show the Arts Team’s change of focus throughout the year:

Jan – April – returning artworks to the artists

April – June – receiving and logging in new artworks for Awards

June – August – helping with judging

August – December – writing feedback

Please note that you must be 18 years or older to volunteer.

Skills and experience needed to volunteer with Koestler Arts:

  • Accuracy – you need to sustain accuracy while working with large volumes of artwork at a time.
  • Physical dexterity – to handle fragile artwork in many shapes and sizes following health and safety procedures.
  • An interest in one or several of the art forms represented in the Awards – an interest in the artwork will keep things lively for you.
  • Commitment to the charity’s policies such as health and safety, confidentiality and equal opportunities.
  • Support for the aims of Koestler Arts – we want our volunteers to get as involved as they can in our work and to enjoy promoting participation in the arts by all people in the criminal justice system, secure patients and detainees.

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I love to see people's poems, and connect with their intent and emotion. I also love to really work out what their purpose is and help them get closer to their target by giving really effective feedback - helpful comments are so encouraging for writers.

2019 feedback volunteer