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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  • Koestler Awards 2020: FAQs

Spirals Cafe, HM Prison Send Mixed Media, 2018

Koestler Awards 2020 FAQs

Due to the impact of Covid-19, there have been a few changes to the 2020 Koestler Awards.

See below for answers to your frequently asked questions.

  • When is the Koestler Awards 2020 deadline?

    The deadline for the 2020 Koestler Awards has now passed.

    We extended our original deadline until July to allow additional time for entrants to submit work during lockdown, particularly those in secure settings who may be more isolated during this time.

    We know everyone in the criminal justice system is facing ongoing challenges, and it still may be still difficult to get entries to us. Please do not hesitate to contact us at info@koestlerarts.org.uk or ‘Freepost KOESTLER ARTS’ if you need any assistance.

  • Are there any extra resources for entrants at this time?

    Between April and July 2020, we produced weekly Art Aid sheets to help inspire learners in prisons and other secure settings. On each PDF you will find a couple of activities that can be done using simple materials, and samples of past entries to the Koestler Awards.

    Although the deadline for the Koestler Awards has now passed, we are continuing to share new Art Aid sheets every month with prison learners and anyone who needs them. All you will need is a pencil and some paper to get started.

    We’re working with education provider Novus to help distribute these, through in-cell screens and paper packs, to their learners.

    If you’re an education provider or prison arts organisation, you can also download and use the sheets. (Please drop us a note to let us know you did.)

  • I’ve heard about the new Platinum Award supported by the Butler Trust to thank key workers in the criminal justice system. What is this?

    This year we’ve teamed up with the Butler Trust to award a Platinum Koestler Award to recognise key workers in prisons, probation services, youth justice settings and immigration removal centres in keeping people safe and well. The winner will receive £100 for a work that celebrates the hidden heroes working in and around the prison service.

    We will announce the winner, along with a selection of other works on this theme, later in the year.

  • Have you received my entries?

    Due to lockdown, the Arts Centre was closed for over 2 months and our mail was held securely by Royal Mail. We are now able to access the Koestler Arts Centre to process the 2020 Koestler Awards entries and should have now received all mail sent during this period.

    We have made a record of every submission, and we have written to all entrants to confirm receipt of their work.

    Make sure you keep us updated with your current address by emailing info@koestlerarts.org.uk or by writing to ‘Freepost KOESTLER ARTS’.

  • I have submitted work through the Fast Feedback Programme. Will I still receive feedback within 4 weeks?

    We are now able to access the Koestler Arts Centre and process artwork entered into our Fast Feedback Programme. We will respond to your entry as soon as we can. Please keep us updated with your current address by emailing info@koestlerarts.org.uk or by writing to ‘Freepost KOESTLER ARTS’.

  • I wrote to you, but I’ve not heard back. When can I expect a reply?

    Due to lockdown, the Koestler Arts Centre was closed for over 2 months, so there is likely to be a significant delay in our reply to your letter. We are now able to access the Koestler Arts Centre and are gradually responding to everyone who written to us over the past few weeks.

    If your enquiry is urgent and it is possible to email us, please contact us at info@koestlerarts.org.uk.

  • Will my work still be judged?

    Your work will be processed in the usual ways – judges have now viewed all entries and decided the award-winners.

    See the 2020 Koestler Awards Results.

    Koestler staff and volunteers will write feedback for as many 2020 entrants as possible.

  • When will the Koestler Awards 2020 results be announced?

    The results for this year’s Koestler Awards have now been announced.

    Certificates, feedback and prize money will follow as soon as possible.

    We are doing our best to respond to submissions in the usual ways (feedback, awards, certificates, sales, exhibitions) and we plan to return to our normal schedule as soon as possible.

  • Will the Koestler exhibitions in London (2020), Yorkshire (2021) and Manchester (2021) still go ahead?

    This year we have been working hard to ensure that we still reflect the voices of prisoners from across the UK in autumn 2020. We know it’s more important than ever to showcase our entrants, even though it will need to be very different.

    We are now working to produce a powerful installation across the outdoor spaces of the Southbank Centre. No Lockdown in the Imagination will take place outdoors at London’s Southbank Centre and online between 12 November and 13 December.

    Our Yorkshire and North West shows in early 2021 are still planned to go ahead, and a selection of 2020 entries will also be exhibited at the National Justice Museum, Nottingham in early 2021.

    Please check back on our website or sign up to our newsletter for updates.

  • When will my work be returned to me?

    We plan to return to our regular schedule as soon as possible. We hope to return all visual artworks by the end of March 2021, except works selected for display in our Yorkshire exhibition.

    Make sure you keep us updated with your current address by emailing info@koestlerarts.org.uk or by writing to ‘Freepost KOESTLER ARTS’.

    Remember that we do not return written works or entries on CD, so please make sure that you keep copies.