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 2021: FAQs

Falling Fireballs, NPS Norfolk and Suffolk, Commended Award for Painting, 2020

Koestler Awards 2021 FAQs

Due to the impact of Covid-19, there have been a few changes to the 2021 Koestler Awards. See below for answers to your frequently asked questions.

If you can’t find the answer to your question, feel free to contact us by email. Please note that our office is currently closed and staff are currently working from home. Therefore, it may take a little longer than usual for us to reply. Thank you for your understanding.

  • Will the 2021 Koestler Awards still go ahead?

    Yes! We’re pleased to say that the 2021 Koestler Awards will still go ahead, and we will begin processing entries as soon as restrictions allow.

    Entries will be judged as usual and Koestler staff and volunteers will write feedback for as many 2021 entrants as possible.

  • When will last year’s Koestler Awards entries be returned?

    We will not begin returning 2020 Koestler Awards entries until we can safely reopen the Koestler Arts Centre. Thank you for your patience and we will aim to return your artwork to you as soon as possible. Remember that we do not return written works or entries on CD.

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

  • When is the 2021 Koestler Awards deadline?

    The Koestler Awards deadline is currently Thursday 22nd April 2021 but may be extended to a reasonable date once we have a better idea of when lockdown restrictions will ease.

    The Koestler Arts Centre is currently closed – however, we continue to receive post during this time.

    If you have entries ready to send, we encourage you to post them as early as you can before the deadline via Royal Mail or a courier, as long as they are not heavy. At this time, we cannot accept deliveries of oversized/heavy items or accept in-person drop-offs. Please save these items for delivery until the Koestler Arts Centre reopens.

    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. We’ll do everything we can to enable you to enter.

  • How can I get Koestler Awards entry forms?

    You can write to ‘Freepost KOESTLER ARTS’ to request entry forms. When restrictions ease, you’ll also be able to get entry forms from your establishment’s library or education department.

    You can also print out our digital entry forms.

  • My tutor/probation officer/OT is not here to sign my entry forms. What should I do?

    Every entry form must be signed off by a regular member of staff at your establishment. Please make sure your forms signed by an approved member of staff before posting your entries.

    If no one can sign your forms before the entry deadline, please contact us at info@koestlerarts.org.uk or ‘Freepost KOESTLER ARTS’ to discuss.

  • Where do I send my entries?

    If work is ready to go and entry forms have been signed by a member of staff, entries can still be sent to us in the usual ways.

    Entries weighing up to 2kg can be sent to ‘Freepost KOESTLER ARTS’. Remember to pack fragile artworks carefully.

    If your entry is very large or heavy, we cannot accept it until after lockdown. Please save these items for delivery until the Koestler Arts Centre reopens.

  • Have you received my entries?

    During lockdown, the Koestler Arts Centre is closed, however we continue to receive all post sent to us during this period.

    Once we have made a record of every submission, we plan to write to all entrants to confirm receipt of their work. Please know that this is likely to be several weeks after we reopen, as we will be processing thousands of entries.

    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?

    Unfortunately, our Fast Feedback Programme is temporarily on hold. 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?

    Any enquiries sent to Koestler Arts or left on our voicemail will still be received and responded to, however it may take us longer than usual to reply as our reduced team are working remotely.

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

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

    We produce Art Aid sheets to help inspire learners in prisons and other secure settings. Until the deadline for the 2021 Koestler Awards, we will be sharing new Art Aid sheets twice a month.

    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.

    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.)

  • Will the exhibitions still go ahead?

    Koestler Arts’ scheduled 2021 exhibitions in Sheffield and Nottingham (more info coming soon!) will still go ahead but will open later than originally planned. We expect them to start as soon as museums and galleries can safely reopen.

    Koestler Arts is still planning to deliver a further exhibition at HOME in Manchester  (more info coming soon!) of works from 2020 from the North West region. This should open in April or May 2021.

    Our annual UK exhibition will also go ahead at Southbank Centre in autumn 2021, curated by Camille Walala.

    Please see our exhibitions page or sign up to our newsletter for the latest updates.