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 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

Haroon Mirza and Gaia Fugazza judging Digital image

Judging the Koestler Awards

Our judges play a vital part in maintaining the impact and prestige of the Koestler Awards. By using their expertise to select award-winning artworks from over 8,000 entries, the judges help recognise and reward the skill, effort and ambition of people in the UK’s criminal justice system.

Entries are judged by over 100 experts from different fields. Judges have included Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, representatives from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Council, the National Theatre, the British Film Institute, Louise Galvin, Speech Debelle and Hot Chip.

We are very grateful to the judges who will be giving awards and feedback to 2018 Koestler Awards entrants, and the many more people who help compile shortlists and volunteer to give written feedback.


    Looking round the entries to the Koestler Awards is like taking a tour through the collective subconscious. Here are the concerns, hopes and obsessions of thousands of people.

    Grayson Perry, artist