Unlock the talent inside

Since 1962 the Koestler Awards have played a unique, national role in motivating prisoners, secure hospital patients and immigration detainees to take part in the arts. The Koestler Awards are simple and powerful – we reward achievement, build self-confidence and broaden horizons for some of society’s most disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Our work harnesses the uniquely transformative power of the arts to help individuals learn the skills and gain the confidence to live creative, positive and productive lives. Each year we receive more than 7,000 entries from over 3,500 entrants across the UK in 52 categories. More than 2,000 Awards are granted by over 100 esteemed judges, and each year culminates in a curated exhibition at Southbank Centre which showcases the incredible power of the arts to transform lives.

Read more about us

The Koestler Arts team, 2019

Jobs & volunteering

Current opportunities:

Development Assistant

Full-time, £23,000 per annum

Koestler Arts is looking for an organised Development Assistant who is passionate about our work to support the Development Director and Chief Executive. Support will include assisting and leading on applications and reports to trusts and foundations, and maintaining communications with individual supporters.

You will be an energetic team player with solid administrative experience and impeccable attention to detail; confident writing copy for a wide range of different audiences; and happy working both independently and as part of a team.

The deadline to apply for this role is 9am Tuesday 5th November.

To apply, please read the Job Description and Person Specification, and then complete and return the Application form by post or by email. We look forward to hearing from you.

Development Assistant job description and person specification

Complete and return:
Development Assistant application form

Social Media and Website Volunteer

Creature Comforts, HMP & YOI Askham Grange, First-Time Entrant Award for Craft 2019

We are looking for a creative and organised social media and website volunteer to help us spread the word about championing the arts in prisons and other secure settings.

Based at the Koestler Arts Centre at the gates of HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs in East Acton, and working alongside the Koestler Arts team, the post would require a commitment of one day a week (11am – 5pm). We strongly value the contribution of our volunteers, and we will work with you to identify your interests and how your volunteering could contribute to achieving your longer term plans.

Our Social Media and Website Volunteer will work alongside our Digital and Communications Officer to help develop and co-ordinate our social media presence and promote the great work we do across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and online. You will be responsible for creating exciting and innovative social media content, linking to our website and developing new ways to raise our profile. We are particularly looking for somebody to assist with video content around our annual UK exhibition Another Me, currently on display at the Southbank Centre.

You may be a social media professional wanting to volunteer for a good cause, or you may be looking for an opportunity to develop your digital skills, as well as making a real difference to a small charity. We look forward to hearing from you!

If you are interested in this voluntary role please complete the Volunteer Application Form (.doc) and email or post it with a brief covering letter, outlining your interest in the role and availability as well as your CV to jennifer@koestlerarts.org.uk or Jenni McGowan, Koestler Arts, 168a Du Cane Rd, London W12 0TX. Please note that we aim to respond to all applications within 2 weeks. We look forward to hearing from you.

Social media volunteer job description

Complete and return:
Volunteer application form

Arts Team Volunteers

Our Arts Team is always on the look-out for enthusiastic and rigorous volunteers to assist with the processing of thousands of entries to the Koestler Awards.

Koestler Arts runs annual awards that structure our team’s calendar, meaning that our responsibilities change throughout the year.

The Arts Team process entries (beginning in March), facilitate judging, write feedback, curate and install exhibitions, run events and finally return artworks to the entrants (November to March).

Volunteers will have an opportunity to experience numerous different roles and activities depending on the period that they spend with us. Our main project at the moment is returning artworks received in the 2019 Awards cycle, alongside a smaller amount of administrative office tasks at our base in London.

We need volunteers who can work independently and can follow our procedures to process the entries efficiently and reliably. Volunteers will gain experience in a dynamic team, getting a privileged behind-the-scenes look at the exciting and diverse range of writing, music, fine art and design pieces we receive. They will also gain an insight into the running of a small prestigious arts organisation. Ideally, volunteers would be able to commit to a period of 3 months, usually 1 – 3 days a week (weekdays). However, volunteers are a highly valued part of our team and we will try to accommodate those with less availability. We will reimburse travel expenses within London.

Skills and experience needed:

• Accuracy – you need to sustain accuracy while logging large volumes of work at a time.

• Physical dexterity – to handle fragile artwork in many shapes and sizes following health and safety procedures.

• Commitment to the charity’s policies such as health & safety, confidentiality, and equal opportunities.

• An interest in one or several of the art forms represented in the Trust’s work – an interest in the work will keep things lively for you.

• Support for the aims of Koestler Arts – we want our volunteers to get as involved as they can in our work and to enjoy promoting participation in the arts by all offenders, secure patients and detainees.

What to do next… If you are interested in this voluntary role please complete the Volunteer application form and email or post it with a brief covering letter, outlining your interest in the role and availability as well as your CV to info@koestlerarts.org.uk or Phoebe Dunn, Koestler Arts, 168a Du Cane Rd, London W12 0TX.

Please note that we aim to respond to all applications within 4 weeks. We look forward to hearing from you.

Volunteer Arts Mentors for Ex-Prisoners

We’re looking for artists, creative writers, musicians, and arts industry professionals, to help support our mentoring scheme. We are particularly interested in hearing from applicants based in the North of England and the Midlands.

Koestler Arts is the UK’s leading prison arts charity. We’ve been awarding, exhibiting, selling, and championing art by prisoners, secure patients & immigration detainees for over 50 years.

Through our arts mentoring programme, Koestler Arts identifies and supports prisoners with talent and enthusiasm, helping them to harness their creativity in a way which can make a positive difference to their resettlement.

Mentors work one-to-one with ex-offenders, offering between 7 and 10 mentoring sessions over a 12-month period. We provide full training and support, but the role is largely an autonomous one and we are looking for mentors who can bring their own energy and expertise to the role.

Applications from ex-offenders are positively encouraged.

We accept applications for this role on a rolling basis.


Complete and return:

I love to see people's poems, and connect with their intent and emotion. I also love to really work out what their purpose is and help them get closer to their target by giving really effective feedback - helpful comments are so encouraging for writers.

2019 feedback volunteer

I could see straight away that we shared a genuine love of words and that there was great scope for us to have a very interesting twelve months. I had set a piece of pre-meeting work which I was pleased to see had brought a response. The task was to describe what was interesting about a favourite work of art, we were soon talking about layers, hidden images and strange angles, all good stuff for poets!

Koestler Mentor