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

Koestler Host at the RE:FORM Art By Offenders, Secure Patients And Detainees Exhibition, Southbank Centre, 2015

Jobs & volunteering

Current opportunities:
> arts team volunteers
> volunteer arts mentors for ex-prisoners


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 an annual awards that structure our team’s calendar, so 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 logging artworks received in the 2019 Awards cycle, alongside a smaller amount of tasks.

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 Lucie Bright, 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.

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

Complete and return:
> koestler mentor application form