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

Grayson Perry judging painting at the Koestler Arts Centre

Koestler Awards

The Koestler Awards are the heart of what we do. Each year we award and give feedback to over 3,000 people submitting work across 50+ categories of Fine Art, Craft and Design, Performance and Audio, Film and Animation and Writing. Our Awards Judges include leading names in the arts and creative industries.

Every participant will receive a participation certificate, and around 80% will receive written feedback on their work from the category’s judge, the Koestler Arts Team or a volunteer.

Our entrants tell us that feedback is one of the most rewarding things about entering the Awards.

Feedback from experienced artists/writers is very valuable because it’s genuine, practical and focused. It’s not sugar-coated or a platitude. In many ways it’s the best thing about the scheme.

Koestler Awards Entrant

We give over £30,000 in cash prizes, ranging from £20 to £100. There are additional Koestler Awards for first-time entrants.

By entering the Koestler Awards entrants can gain recognition for their achievements, get feedback on how to develop their creative work and gain motivation to work to a deadline. Many entrants use Awards or sales money to buy further arts materials or pay for courses.

Entering the Koestler Awards also gives eligibility for Koestler MentoringArtwork sales, Exhibitions and Events.

The most recent Koestler Awards results are available here as a pdf.

Examples of Award-winning work can be viewed in the Artwork Galleries.