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 55 years.

Our awards receive over 7,000 entries a year – inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, work towards positive achievements 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

Kaleidoscopic Fulfilment, HM Prison Peterborough, Inside Time First-Time Entrant Award for Mixed Media, 2015

Artforms & Award Winners

When the Koestler Awards started in 1962 there were just two Awards artforms: Writing and Fine Art. Now we have over 50 categories across the following artforms: Visual Art, Craft and Design, Writing, Performance and Audio, Film and Animation and Multi-Artform.

Koestler Awards artforms have evolved with the times, and in response to feedback from our entrants and the people who work with them. More established categories include Painting, Poetry, Life Story and Portrait. Newer categories include Computer Generated Music, Song Writing, Digital Art and Spoken Word.

We invite experts in each field to judge the Awards, individually or as part of panels. The judging takes place at the Koestler Arts Centre throughout June each year.

Click on the arts categories in the menu on the right to see examples of the original and unique artworks entered in the Koestler Awards each year.