Our Impact

The Impact Of Arts In Prisons

The impact of arts in prisons is broad, often providing a springboard for positive change. Engaging with art and creativity can help prisoners, secure hospital patients and immigration detainees to learn new skills and gain the confidence to live positive and productive lives, helping them on their rehabilitative journeys.

Evidence suggests that engaging in the arts can also improve wellbeing, family connections, motivation and resilience, and provide opportunities for self-reflection and education.

The annual Koestler Awards are simple and powerful. We reward achievement, build self-confidence and open new horizons.

All Koestler Awards entrants receive feedback and recognition for their creative achievements.

For many entrants, external encouragement can be a vital stepping stone in building self-confidence, positive relationships and greater engagement with education. In 2021-22, 89% of our entrants told us that entering the Koestler Awards improved their self-confidence.

Artists whose work is chosen for exhibitions have the opportunity to celebrate their achievements with family and friends at our family days, helping to build and reinforce the relationships which are vital to rehabilitation and resettlement.

Read more about our impact
“I can count on one hand the things that have made me feel human and a tiny bit hopeful for the future since I came into prison – and winning an award from Koestler is one of them. I can’t put into words how much it means to me.”

– Koestler Awards entrant, 2022

My Koestler Story

Read stories of some of the individuals whose lives have been changed by art.

My Koestler Story
A painting of blue geometric 3D shapes on a black background.
A painting of the side of a person's head with various things coming out of his head, such as a light bulb and microphone.

Encouraging Art in Prison

Each year we run the Koestler Awards for arts in criminal justice, with over 3,500 people in custody and in the community taking part by sharing their creative work with us. Entrants of all abilities receive feedback and certificates, encouraging them to continue expressing themselves in positive ways and transforming their lives through their involvement in the arts.

Learn more about the Koestler Awards
A photo of a person stood in front of a wall full of artwork at a Koestler Arts exhibiton.

Changing Public Perceptions

It is important for us to engage the public in our work. All our exhibitions are free to attend and feature Audience Feedback Cards, on which visitors can write feedback about the exhibited artworks. These cards are sent directly to the artists and build a connection between Koestler Awards entrants and people outside prison. We are proud to have a relationship with Victim Support, the charity that supports victims of crime. When we sell artworks on behalf of our entrants, a donation of 25% is made to Victim Support.

Find out more about our exhibitions
A sculpture of two little creatures head's with their tongues out.

Continued Support For Ex-Prisoners

Our arts mentoring scheme pairs recently released prisoners with arts professionals to support them in continuing their creative practice in the community. Each year we also provide employment and valuable work experience for 6–8 ex-prisoners through our exhibition host programme. Hosts develop and refine vital workplace skills and can share with audiences the impact of art rehabilitation in prisons.

Learn more about ex-prisoner arts mentoring

Any Questions?

Please don’t hesitate to ask for more information
Get In Touch