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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Bob & Roberta Smith in conversation with Prof. David Wilson at Snail Porridge: The Koestler Exhibition for the North West, 2014

Recent exhibitions

Koestler Arts shares the artwork generated by the Koestler Awards with audiences across the UK. We’ve held exhibitions in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham, Colchester, Manchester and Gateshead and taken Koestler writing to the Bridlington Festival.

Our UK Exhibitions take place annually at the Southbank Centre in London and have included I’m Still Here curated by prisoners’ families (2018), Inside curated by Antony Gormley (2017), We Are All Human curated by Benjamin Zephaniah (2016), and Catching Dreams curated by past Koestler Awards entrants (2014).

We seek to represent our entrants and their families in everything we do. We often empower entrants and other groups to take charge of presenting the entries to the public through exhibitions. We Made This, our recent exhibition at Turner Contemporary in Margate, was curated by a group of people on probation in the local area. Our 2018 exhibition at Firstsite in Colchester, Chip Night, was curated by local young people, and our 2017 exhibition Beyond the Door at mac Birmingham was curated by Walsall Youth Justice Service. Serving prisoners, Youth Offending Teams (YOTs), victims of crime, secure children’s home residents and mentoring programme participants have all taken the lead on presenting the work and bringing their own unique perspectives to our public programmes.

If you are a festival, arts venue or arts organisation and would like to discuss a partnership please email Fiona Curran, Director of Arts fiona@koestlerarts.org.uk