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

Jobs & volunteering

Current opportunities:

> ex-prisoner exhibition hosts

> feedback volunteers

> volunteer arts mentors for ex-prisoners 


Ex-Prisoner Exhibition Hosts

Koestler Arts is looking to recruit a group of ex-prisoners to invigilate its national exhibition alongside Southbank Centre’s own Host Team, 7 days a week for the 7-week run. Our Exhibition Hosts enhance the public’s experience of the exhibition, and the role provides participants with a strong piece of work experience for their CV and a chance to develop new skills and build up their confidence for future employment.

The role involves standard invigilation duties – welcoming visitors to the exhibition, ensuring their safety and security, handing out exhibition guides, voting cards and providing advice on the sales of works plus much more:

• Conducting tours of the exhibition
• Working in the exhibition’s Pop-up Shop
• Learning customer service and team-working skills
• Providing an exceptional visitor experience of the exhibition
• The opportunity to be involved ‘behind the scenes’ in the exhibition process – from installation to de-installation

We are looking for people who are able to give varied availability during the exhibition run – 18th September until 3rd November 2019 – and you would also need to be available for 6 training days (for which you will be paid) prior to the exhibition’s official public opening on Wednesday 18th September 2019.

Working hours will be for a minimum of 8 hours per week and you may be offered work on any day of the week including Saturdays, Sundays, evenings and bank holidays. You will be employed by Koestler Arts on a temporary contract for an hourly rate of rate £10.55 per hour.

This employment opportunity is a bit different from many others as we are specifically looking to recruit people with convictions. Southbank Centre support initiatives such as ‘Ban the Box’ which encourages employers not to ask about convictions prior to interview, however as the successful candidates will be Koestler employees, who will be publically identified as Ex-Prisoner Exhibition Hosts, we are asking for people to disclose their convictions upon application. This is because people who have committed certain types of offences would not be allowed to work in this role [Please see our frequently asked questions for more information].

Application Deadline: 9am on Wednesday 24th July 2019
Interview Dates: Wednesday 31st July and Thursday 1st August 2019

Watch this video and hear from last year’s hosts about their experiences.

Documents to download:

> Exhibition Hosts – Job Description and Person Specification
> Exhibition Hosts – Frequently Asked Questions
> Exhibition Hosts – 2018 Ex-Prisoner Exhibition Host Testimonial
> Exhibition Hosts – Further information and how to apply
> Exhibition Hosts – Application Form [PDF] / Exhibition Hosts – Application Form [Word]

For more information please contact Sarah Matheve at Koestler Arts: sarah@koestlerarts.org.uk, 02087400333 or 07435 781 843


Feedback Volunteers


All through July and August, we are running feedback writing days on Tuesdays and Fridays at the Koestler Arts Centre in West London.

Volunteers are welcome to join us to write personalised feedback for various visual, written and audio entries, including Sculpture, Spoken Word, Painting, Portrait and Craft, which we will send to the entrants to encourage them in their creative journeys. Please let us know which kind of artworks you would be interested in writing about.

Feedback Writing days will take place every Tuesday and Friday in July and August, plus two additional Saturdays on the 10th and 17th August.

If you would like to join us for any dates, please register your interest by sending an email to Phoebe Dunn.


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.

Read: 
> mentoring – frequently asked questions
> mentoring – person specification
> mentoring – project information

Complete and return:
> koestler mentor application form



It has given me a second chance. As a result of working for Koestler I was able to get a job and have hope for the future.

2018 Ex-Prisoner Exhibition Host

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