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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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  • EFG London Jazz Festival Concert

Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi

EFG London Jazz Festival Concert

HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, 21 November 2019

Workshop leaders Fusion and Sherry

In November 2019, Koestler Arts teamed up with Serious for a unique concert in the atmospheric prison chapel of HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs. This was the first time that a London Jazz Festival event had taken place inside a prison.

Grammy Award winning musician Rhiannon Giddens headlined the event alongside Francesco Turrisi, supported by an ensemble of prisoners performing original vocal material in the atmospheric prison chapel.

The musical contribution from the prison marked the culmination of a 3-week vocal project inside. The participants from HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs were not musical experts, just people with enthusiasm to try something new. Over 8 workshop sessions, with experienced workshop leaders Sherry and Fusion, they were given the chance to explore different vocal styles, from gospel to beat-box. Along the way, they tested and explored their creativity, confidence, self-expression and ability to work together. Raising their voices, in the best possible way.

Listen back:

At the Purchaser’s Option by Rhiannon Giddens, at the EFG London Jazz Festival concert at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, November 2019
Wayfaring Stranger by Rhiannon Giddens, at the EFG London Jazz Festival concert at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, November 2019
He Will See You Through by Rhiannon Giddens, at the EFG London Jazz Festival concert at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, November 2019
Leave With Tomorrow by the HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs Ensemble, at the EFG London Jazz Festival concert at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, November 2019
Waves are Still Rolling (Chorus) by the HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs Ensemble, at the EFG London Jazz Festival concert at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, November 2019
Waves are Still Rolling (Spoken word) by the HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs Ensemble, at the EFG London Jazz Festival concert at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, November 2019
Ready (Improvisation) by the HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs Ensemble, at the EFG London Jazz Festival concert at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs, November 2019