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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  • Arts Mentoring

Light from Art in a Dark Place, HM Prison Hull, Silver Award for Painting, 2017

Arts Mentoring

Since 2007, we have supported ex-offenders in continuing their artistic engagement by matching them with a specially trained arts mentor.

This video was made by a former Koestler mentee for Koestler Arts and provides an insight into the Mentoring Scheme by sharing the experiences and artworks of 6 artists and writers who have benefitted from Koestler Mentoring.

Our mentoring is designed to support people who have experience of the criminal justice system and who have a keen interest in the arts to develop their practice in the community. Koestler mentors support the mentee in developing their skills e.g. building their portfolio, identifying other arts opportunities, disseminating their work and/or applying to educational courses. Mentees are provided with up to 10 mentoring sessions over a 12 month period.

A small number of Named Koestler Scholarships are awarded each year to award winners who have an existing body of work. The recipients of this mentoring are also awarded £150 in prize money and £150 of art materials. The work of Koestler Scholars is showcased at our exhibitions.

Download the double-sided Koestler Mentoring Programme poster. Read more about the Impact of Arts Mentoring.

The Koestler Award has built so much self-esteem in prisoners that I believe it is the most effective rehabilitation tool in the prison system today.

Koestler Award winner