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

Light from Art in a Dark Place, HM Prison Hull, Silver Award for Painting, 2017

Arts Mentoring

Since 2007, we have supported ex-offenders in continuing their artistic engagement by matching them with a specially trained arts mentor.

Our mentoring is designed to support people who have experience of the criminal justice system and who have a keen interest in the arts to develop their practice in the community. Koestler mentors support the mentee in developing their skills e.g. building their portfolio, identifying other arts opportunities, disseminating their work and/or applying to educational courses. Mentees are provided with up to 7 mentoring sessions over a 12 month period.

A small number of Named Koestler Scholarships are awarded each year to award winners who have an existing body of work. The recipients of this mentoring are also awarded £150 in prize money and £150 of art materials. The work of Koestler Scholars is showcased at our exhibitions.


Koestler Mentoring Programme

In this film we hear from a variety of people about how the mentoring scheme works, including prison and probation staff, three mentees and their mentors, one of the Trust’s supporters and Dr Leonidas Cheliotis – who has independently evaluated the mentoring scheme.

> Click here to find out why mentoring works.

> View Mentoring Gallery



Light from Art in a Dark Place, HM Prison Hull, Silver Award for Painting 2017

The Koestler Award has built so much self-esteem in prisoners that I believe it is the most effective rehabilitation tool in the prison system today.

Koestler Award winner