The art awards scheme for offenders, secure patients and detainees

We’re the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. We’ve been awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for over 50 years.

Our awards receive over 8,000 entries a year – inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, work for achievement and transform their lives. Our national exhibition attracts 20,000 visitors – showing the public the talent and potential of offenders and people in secure settings.

We have no endowment or capital – our work depends entirely on donations.

Read more about us

Koestler Host at the RE:FORM Art By Offenders, Secure Patients And Detainees Exhibition, Southbank Centre, 2015

Jobs & volunteering


Invitation to Tender – Research on our Impact in Prisons

We are inviting tenders for a piece of research into the Koestler Awards Scheme’s impact on prisoners whilst they are still in custody. This research will build on existing evidence around the important impact the arts can have on well-being, engagement, self-esteem and self-identity, and also relate its finding to desistance theory.

Researchers are advised to read through the invitation to tender document in full before applying.

> Invitation to tender (.pdf)

Deadline for responses is Tuesday 9th May 2017.


Volunteer Arts Mentors for Ex-Prisoners

We are looking for artists, creative writers, musicians, and arts industry professionals, to help support our mentoring scheme. We are particularly interested in hearing from applicants based in the North West of England.

The Koestler Trust is the UK’s leading prison arts charity. We’ve been awarding, exhibiting, selling, and championing art by prisoners, secure patients & immigration detainees for over 50 years.

Through our arts mentoring programme, The Koestler Trust identifies and supports prisoners with talent and enthusiasm, helping them to harness their creativity in a way which can make a positive difference to their resettlement.

Mentors work one-to-one with ex-offenders, offering between 7 and 10 mentoring sessions over a 12-month period. We provide full training and support, but the role is largely an autonomous one and we are looking for mentors who can bring their own energy and expertise to the role.

Applications from ex-offenders are positively encouraged.

We accept applications for this role on a rolling basis.


> Koestler Mentoring FAQ document

> Mentor person specification

> Mentoring project information

Complete and return:

> Koestler Mentor Application Form


Arts Team Volunteers

We are not currently looking for new Arts Team Volunteers.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Koestler Trust please check this page in May 2017 when we will be recruiting Volunteer Arts, Literature and Music Critics to help us write feedback for the entries to the 2017 Koestler Awards.