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.

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  • Multi-artform

Togetherness, HM Prison Lewes, Victor Roberts Highly Commended Award for Themed Category: Together, 2021


Themed Category

Our annual Themed Category helps provide a starting point for many entrants and the staff who support them. Entrants can respond to the theme across any of the Koestler Award artforms.

The theme gives many entrants the inspiration to take part in the Awards, often for the first time.

The Themed Category doesn’t affect the other categories of Koestler Awards, although when a category has been especially popular, its impact can sometimes be felt across our exhibitions.

The 2022 Themed Category is ‘Taste’.

Previous themes:

2021 Togetherchosen and judged by Koestler Arts mentees
2020 Windowjudged by Lisa Selby
2019 Interludejudged by Raphael Rowe
2018 Connectionsjudged by Reggie Yates
2017 Insidechosen by Antony Gormley
2016 Comfortchosen by our social media followers
2015 Journeychosen by our social media followers
2014 Dreamsjudged by Olympic champion, Katherine Grainger CBE
2013 Forgivenessjudged by Dame Jude Kelly OBE
2012 50in celebration of 50 years of the charity
2011 Help!judged by Jeremy Paxman

Arts Project

The Arts Project category is open to entries which feature components that cover several Koestler Awards artforms. Entries must include a description of the aims of the project, documentation of the artistic outcome and the people involved.

Online Gallery

View a selection of award-winning Multi-artform entries from previous Koestler Awards below.