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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  • Performance and Audio

Liberty Choir performing at the opening of Another Me at the Southbank Centre, 2019

Performance and Audio

We receive performance and audio entries from a wide range of establishments, organisations and individuals. Not every secure setting or individual has access to equipment with which to record their work, and for others, it poses a security risk. For this reason, we also provide a Music Composition category, to which written scores can be submitted with the option of a Song Writing category under Writing.

Often performance and music entries are produced as part of projects with specialist organisations such as Clean Break, Changing Tunes, Music in Prisons, Finding Rhythms, and Good Vibrations. To respond to the wide range of work being created across criminal justice settings we have several categories of performance and audio. These include:

Visitor at The I and the We, Southbank Centre, 2021
  • Spoken word
  • Performance
  • Radio production
  • Music composition
  • Choral music
  • Singer-songwriter – original
  • Cover version
  • Instrumental
  • Hip hop, rap and grime
  • Computer-generated music

EFG London Jazz Festival Concert

In 2019, Koestler Arts teamed up with Serious for a unique performance in the atmospheric prison chapel of HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs. The performance was open to the public and featured music by Rhiannon GiddensListen back to the performance and read our Journey to the Jazz Festival blog.