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

How to enter the Koestler Awards

Who can enter?

Entrants to the Awards need to be from one of the following groups:

  • Any current inmate of a UK prison, young offender institution, secure training centre, secure children’s home, immigration removal centre, or high or medium security psychiatric hospital or unit (including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man).
  • Any current client of the National Probation Service or a Community Rehabilitation Company, a Youth Offending Service, the Scottish Criminal Justice Social Work Service or their equivalents elsewhere in the British Isles.
  • Any UK citizen currently in a prison overseas (must submit via Prisoners Abroad).

What can I enter?

  • You can enter original work in any of the artforms listed in the guidance notes.
  • Entries can be produced by individuals or groups.
  • The work must be from the last 12 months.
  • We will accept a maximum of 5 entries per entrant or per group.
  • We do not accept paintings or drawings copied from other paintings or drawings.
  • Do not enter work that includes your name in the artwork or on the back.

How do I enter?

2017 Koestler Awards Entry Form

  • Fill in one entry form for each entry. You are welcome to photocopy the entry form.
  • Ask an authorised member of staff to sign each entry form and give their contact details.
  • We cannot accept your entry if it is not signed by a member of staff. In prisons and secure settings, the member of staff supporting the entry must be an employee of the establishment (not a visiting artist or employee of an external education provider). It could be an officer, tutor, or librarian for example. In the community, the member of staff should be a probation officer or other professional case worker.
  • Pack your work carefully so that it reaches us safely. Very large, heavy, fragile or valuable items should be delivered and collected by hand. Many establishments send a van of entries each year – ask if this happens at your establishments.
  • For some artforms you may enter by sending photographs. Please read the guidance notes for more information.
  • You can send items up to 2kg free by posting them to FREEPOST Koestler Trust.

Research

One of our aims at the Koestler Trust is to demonstrate that the arts are beneficial to offenders, secure patients and detainees. We need evidence to show to funders and policy makers. We would be very grateful if you agreed to help with this by completing the monitoring section on the entry form. Any research carried out will use your anonymised
data only and the published research will never identify individuals.

 

Koestler Awards Timeline

April

April

Deadline for all entries to reach Koestler Arts Centre


june july

June - July

Judging takes place at the Koestler Arts Centre


august

August

UK Awards results published on our website 


sep nov

September - November

UK exhibition at Southbank Centre


October

October

All UK Awards certificates and prizes posted out


december

December

Sales money sent out


Dec – march

December - March

Entries returned to entrants and next year’s Awards forms and guidance available



I am now very keen to take my artwork to the next level which I would never have done if I hadn't won an award.

Koestler Award-winning entrant