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

Current vacancies:


Arts Coordinator

£23,000 p.a.

The Koestler Trust is the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. We encourage prisoners, secure patients and detainees to participate in the arts and we showcase their talents to the public. Our Arts Team is looking for an experienced and motivated person to lead the administration of our awards programme and provide support to our public programmes.

The successful candidate will have at least eighteen months’ experience in an administrative role – using databases, producing large merged mail outs, and communicating with a wide range of people. They will also have a real enthusiasm for our work, and be committed to ensuring that each of the thousands of entrants to the Koestler Awards has a positive and enriching experience of our arts programmes.

Deadline: Tuesday 28th November 2017, 9am
Interviews: Wednesday 6th December 2017

> job description and person specification [.docx]
> application form – arts coordinator [.docx]


Outreach Administrator

£19,000 p.a.

The Outreach Department is looking for an experienced and competent administrator to provide excellent administrative support for our Arts Mentoring Scheme.

The Koestler Trust is the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. We’ve been awarding, exhibiting and selling artwork by prisoners, secure patients and detainees since 1962. Based outside HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs in West London, Koestler’s Outreach Department works to engage our entrants in the wider aspects of our work and to assist & encourage them to further develop their artistic skills.

As our Outreach Administrator you will provide administrative and practical support to the Trust’s Mentoring Scheme, with the aim of maximising the impact of the Trust’s activities on the lives of prisoners; enabling prisoner artists to develop their arts practice with the support and encouragement of a trained Koestler Arts Mentor. Koestler’s Mentoring Programme forms the Outreach & Involvement team’s core work and, as such, working towards the successful attainment of external targets imposed by the project’s funders is integral to this role.

The Koestler Trust encourages application from candidates with personal experience of the criminal justice system.

Deadline: Wednesday 6th December 2017, 12 noon
Interviews: 14th December 2017

> job description and person specification [.docx]
> application form – outreach odministrator [.docx]


Arts Team Volunteers Needed

Our Arts Team is looking for several enthusiastic and rigorous volunteers to assist with the processing of thousands of entries to the Koestler Awards.

We run annual awards which structure our team’s calendar. This means that our responsibilities change throughout the year as we process entries (beginning in March), facilitate judging, write feedback, curate and put up exhibitions, run events and finally return artwork to the entrants (December to February). Volunteers will have an opportunity to experience a number of different roles and activities dependent on the period that they spend with us. Upcoming projects involve: taking down and processing the return of our 2017 exhibition works, returning all entries to the 2017 Koestler Awards to the artists (main focus), preparing works for exhibition at Firstsite in March 2018, helping with mail-outs to entrants, and other general office tasks.

We need volunteers who can work independently and can follow our procedures in order to process the entries efficiently and reliably and play a crucial part in our team. Volunteers will gain experience of working in a dynamic team and handling artwork, as well as having a privileged ‘behind the scenes look’ at the exciting and diverse range of writing, fine art and design pieces we receive.

Volunteers present during weekly meetings will be welcome to attend, as these meetings will provide an insight into the running of a small prestigious arts organisation.

Ideally, volunteers would be able to commit to a period of 2 months, usually 2 – 4 days a week (weekdays). However, volunteers are a highly valued part of our team and we will try to accommodate those with less availability. We will reimburse travel and lunch expenses.

Skills and experience needed:
• Accuracy – you need to sustain accuracy while logging large volumes of work at a time.
• Physical dexterity – to handle fragile artwork in many shapes and sizes following health and safety procedures.
• Commitment to the Koestler Trust’s policies such as health & safety, confidentiality, and equal opportunities.
• An interest in one or several of the art forms represented in the Trust’s work – an interest in the work will keep things lively for you.
• Support for the aims of the Koestler Trust – we want our volunteers to get as involved as they can in our work and to enjoy promoting participation in the arts by all offenders, secure patients and detainees.

What to do next…

If you are interested in this voluntary role please complete the Volunteer Application Form (.doc) and email or post it with a brief covering letter, outlining your interest in the role and availability as well as your CV to or Lucie Bright, Koestler Trust, 168a Du Cane Rd, London W12 0TX. Please note that we aim to respond to all applications within 4-6 weeks. We look forward to hearing from you.


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, and South Wales.

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.

> mentoring – frequently asked questions
> mentoring – person specification
> mentoring – project information

Complete and return:
> koestler mentor application form