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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Wet Sunday, HM Prison Nottingham, First Koestler Award winner for Painting, 1962

How we’re funded

Our funding comes from a range of sources, including government and statutory, trusts and foundations, individuals, corporates, and trading activities.

We currently receive a public sector grant from the HMPPS (Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service) of £75,000, about a tenth of our annual turnover. Since 2015 this has been matched by a grant from Arts Council England as we became a National Portfolio Organisation.

We rely on the generous support of our supporters for the majority of our income and we are extremely grateful for the grants, donations and gifts that we receive from individuals, businesses, trusts and foundations.

We couldn’t function without the extraordinary commitment and enthusiasm of staff across the establishments that enter the Koestler Awards. We’re especially grateful to Her Majesty’s Prison Service and the National Offender Management Service, which provide us with our premises next to HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs and help us distribute publicity, prizes and artworks across the criminal justice system.

We partner with prestigious arts venues across the country to make our ambitious exhibitions and events programmes possible. Recent collaborations include Southbank Centre, Glasgow Tramway, mac Birmingham, Castlefield Gallery, Wales Millennium Centre, BALTIC, Bridlington Festival and the British Council (Venice Biennale).

We are grateful to Golden Squared Consulting for their support with communications.

Thank you to the following Trusts, Foundations and organisations who currently support the Koestler Trust with donations and grants, and to all those who wish to remain anonymous.