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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  • 2020 Koestler Awards

Woman with Green Dreads, HMP Peterborough, Portrait, 2019

2020 Koestler Awards

Deadline: 3 April 2020

The Koestler Awards is open to:

  • Anyone in custody in a UK prison, young offender institution, secure training centre, secure children’s home, immigration removal centre, or high or medium security psychiatric hospital or unit (including the Channel Islands and Isle of Man).
  • Any current client of the National Probation Service or a Community Rehabilitation Company, a Youth Offending Service, the Scottish Criminal Justice Social Work Service or their equivalents elsewhere in the UK.
  • Any UK citizen currently in a prison overseas (must submit via Prisoners Abroad).

Themed Category

The themed category for the 2020 Koestler Awards is: Window.

We invite our entrants to have a go at producing a poem, drawing, painting, song or any other Koestler Artform using the word ‘Window’ as a theme.

Camille Walala

Camille Walala (Photography: Charles Emerson)

We are delighted to announce that our 2020 annual UK exhibition will be curated by artist Camille Walala!

To be in with a chance of selection for this exhibition, entrants must submit work into the 2020 Koestler Awards!

Creative work must be entered into the Koestler Awards by the 3 April deadline. It will then be judged for Koestler Awards by over 120 expert performers, writers, artists, designers and curators, and given feedback, before being considered for the UK exhibition by Camille.

Download our factsheet to find out more.

2020 Stage Play Awards

In partnership with Synergy Theatre Project

In 2020 Koestler Arts and Synergy Theatre Project will continue to showcase Stage Play entries and get feedback for the writers.

Synergy Theatre Project is a ground-breaking charity that works through theatre towards a fairer world where those within or at risk of entering the criminal justice system can discover alternative pathways and become an integral and meaningful part of society.

Download the 2020 Stage Play guidance notes.

Under 18s Fast Feedback

Entrants under 18 can enter the Koestler Awards at any point in the year and get a response to their entries within 4 weeks of entry, with guaranteed feedback. Under 18s are also considered for additional Awards. Find out more about Fast Feedback.

Where next?

  • Read our 2020 Guidance Notes for full information on how to enter the 2020 Koestler Awards.
  • Download our 2020 Entry Form.
  • Send your work (up to 2kg) for free by posting to: Freepost KOESTLER ARTS