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.

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Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi + HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, London Jazz Festival, 21 November 2019
Voices from Prisons, 24 October 2019, Southbank Centre
Exhibition tours of our annual UK exhibition
Liberty Choir, 18 September & 1 November 2019, Southbank Centre

Events

Each year we run events around the UK to showcase the range of written, visual, spoken word and musical artworks entered into the Koestler Awards.

We hold a number of regular events as part of our annual UK exhibition, including tours by our ex-prisoner exhibition hosts, excerpts from stage plays and our spoken word and poetry event, Voices from Prison.

Throughout the year we organise musical performances, tours of exhibitions around the UK, shared reading sessions and seminars for arts educators in criminal justice settings.

Take a look at some of our past events.