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

Cornflower Blue, HM Prison Leyhill, Doughty Street Chambers Audience Choice Platinum Award, Bronze Award for Needlecraft, 2017

Our Impact

2017–2018 Impact Statement

We are delighted to share our 2017–2018 Impact Statement, showing our achievements in one of the most challenging years yet for the prison estate. Click here to take a look, and if you would like any more information on our work over the year, do get in touch with Mali Clements, Development Officer, at or call us on 020 8740 0333

The Koestler Trust evaluates all its work for quality, value for money and impact. Each entrant to the Awards is asked to complete monitoring and evaluation forms so we can measure how we’re performing and listen to entrants’ views on how we can better support their participation in the arts.

Our steering groups, staff and volunteers include ex-Koestler entrants. We hold focus groups in prisons and other settings to evaluate projects and often ask our service-users to lead our creative projects. We have a relationship with Victim Support, the charity that supports victims of crime, and have held events for their staff and volunteers at our Southbank exhibitions and worked together to curate our 2010 UK exhibition. When we sell artworks on behalf of our entrants, a donation of 25% is made to Victim Support.

We seek to engage the public in debate and developing our programmes. Each exhibition features Audience Feedback Cards, on which visitors can feedback on the artwork to the maker, and special Koestler Awards chosen by the public.

We are thrilled to share reports on all aspects of our work, including our exhibitions and outreach work. Do let us know if you have any questions or feedback about any of our work.


Reports on our impact

Reports on the impact of our work include The Arts of Desistance, (Dr Leonidas Cheliotis, London School of Economics, 2014), which studied the impact of our mentoring programmes over six years.

The ex-offender mentees developed greater confidence in their abilities, became more driven to achieve success, conceptualised their future in ways opposed to crime, and increased their expectations of staying free from crime. These are all very important outcomes, given that the way individuals think and talk about themselves shapes their future behaviour.

Dr Leonidas Cheliotis

The research found long-term positive effects on the mentored offenders, especially pro-social attitudes that reduce the likelihood of reoffending. Unemployment among the sample group fell from 50% to 33%. Of the total of 94 mentees, 68% had been in prison for serious violent or sexual offences; 14% were known to have reoffended or been recalled to prison during or since their arts mentoring.

To coincide with the academic launch, we produced a brochure showcasing the talent and achievements of Koestler mentees from 2007–2014.



2017-2018 Koestler Trust Impact Statement (PDF)

The Arts of Desistance (PDF)

Koestler Mentoring Brochure (PDF)