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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Bob & Roberta Smith in conversation with Prof. David Wilson at Snail Porridge: The Koestler Exhibition for the North West, 2014

Local exhibitions

Exhibition programmes across the UK

We hold exhibitions across the UK each year, involving local groups and artists to shape the content. These exhibitions allow more entrants’ families to see the artworks, and engage artists’ local communities.

Local exhibitions feature entries to the year’s Koestler Awards from the local area, and performances and talks by local artists. Each programme looks to open up new debate and perspectives on the work. Exhibition curators have included local youth offending teams, serving prisoners, secure children’s homes, artists and people on probation. Exhibition programmes have been held in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Gateshead, Colchester, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Snape, Margate and Cardiff, and we have taken Koestler writing to festivals and events around the UK.

We work in partnership with host venues to create these ambitious programmes, and look for local and national funders to support their production.

If you are a festival, arts venue or arts organisation and would like to discuss a partnership please email Fiona Curran, Director of Arts fiona@koestlerarts.org.uk