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

Our impact: arts mentoring

Recent 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.



The Art of Desistance (PDF)

Koestler Mentoring Brochure (PDF)