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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Grayson Perry judging painting at the Koestler Arts Centre
Hot Chip judging Computer Generated Music at the Koestler Arts Centre
Reggie Yates judging the Themed category at the Koestler Arts Centre

Koestler Awards

The Koestler Awards are the heart of what we do. Each year we award and give feedback to over 3,000 people across 50+ categories, including Fine Art, Craft and Design, Performance and Audio, Film and Animation and Writing. Our judges include leading names in the arts and creative industries.

Every participant will receive a certificate. Around 90% will receive written feedback on their work from a judge, the Koestler Arts Team or a volunteer.

Our entrants tell us that feedback is one of the most rewarding things about entering the Awards.

Feedback from experienced artists/writers is valuable because it’s genuine, practical and focused. It’s not sugar-coated or a platitude. In many ways, it’s the best thing about the scheme.

Koestler Awards Entrant

We give over £30,000 in cash prizes, ranging from £20 to £100. There are additional Koestler Awards for first-time entrants.

Koestler Awards entrants gain recognition for their achievements. They receive feedback on their creative work and gain motivation to work to a deadline. Many entrants use Awards or sales money to buy further arts materials or pay for courses.

Entering the Koestler Awards also gives eligibility for the Koestler mentoring scheme, artwork sales, exhibitions and events.



Feedback from experienced artists/writers is very valuable because it’s genuine, practical and focused. It’s not sugar-coated or a platitude. In many ways it’s the best thing about the scheme.

Koestler Awards entrant