An update from Koestler Arts in response to the impact of Covid-19

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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 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.

  • Name an Award

Galaxy Quest, HM Prison & Young Offender Institution Parc, Arts Society Greater London Area Under 18s Special Award for Painting, 2018

Name an Award

Sponsor our work by giving a name to a Koestler Award

Naming an Award is a vital link between an artist on the inside and a supporter of their work on the outside; an affirmation that members of the public support their positive achievements.

Food for Thought, HM Prison Lewes, Emma Buckmaster Silver Award for Painting 2018

Each year we give out over 2,000 Koestler Awards, providing individuals in secure settings with motivation and a focus for their artistic efforts. Sponsoring an Award is a vote of confidence for the recipient, and helps us continue our work encouraging and raising the self-worth of those who need it most.

You can specify which level of Award you would like to sponsor, as well as an artform that resonates with you. We’ll send you an image of the artwork granted your Award, and if it is chosen for exhibition or publications it will be captioned with your Award Name. Every entrant receives a certificate, and the name of your award will also appear there, showing them they have a supporter on the outside.

We’ll also invite you to events throughout the year, including the private previews of our exhibitions in London and across the UK.

To me, just to win anything made my life so much better, I really started feeling better in myself and proud – something I haven’t felt for a very long time.

Koestler Awards entrant

If you have any questions about Naming an Award, please contact the Development Team on 020 8740 0333 or email

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Reclaim Gift Aid

Gift Aid It!Add 25% more to your donation at no cost to you. A Gift Aid declaration allows Koestler Arts to claim tax back on eligible donations. It means that for every £1 you donate to Koestler Arts we can claim back 25p, at no extra cost to you.

By ticking the "Yes" box, I agree I would like Koestler Arts to reclaim the tax on all qualifying donations I have made, as well as any future donations, until I notify them otherwise. I understand that if I pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations in that tax year I may be asked to pay any difference. I understand that Koestler Arts will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 that I give.

What is Gift Aid?

Gift Aid does not cost you a penny more, but can add an additional 25p to every £1 you donate. When Koestler Arts receives a donation from a UK taxpayer, we're entitled to claim an amount of tax (calculated at the basic rate of income tax in that year) paid on that donation. Once you have given your permission for us to do this on your behalf, there is no need for you to do anything else.

All that is required is that you must be a taxpayer and that would have paid or will pay sufficient Income and/or Capital Gains Tax to cover all the Gift Aid claimed on all your donations in that tax year. Please note that it is your responsibility to pay any difference.

The amount of tax we claim will be 25% of the total value of your donations in that tax year. Furthermore, if you are a higher taxpayer, you are also entitled to claim the difference between the basic rate which we will claim and the amount of tax you have actually paid. For further details on how you can do this, please contact your tax office. If your tax situation changes and your gifts will no longer be eligible for the Gift Aid scheme please contact us and we will amend your record accordingly.

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My favourite thing about visiting the annual UK exhibition at Southbank Centre was seeing the two pieces I sponsor - it reinforced how worthwhile it is.

Koestler Award Namer

I named the Victor Roberts Award after a prisoner in America who has become a great friend over the 20 plus years I have known him. He was on death row when I met him (his sentence was later commuted), and wrote movingly about the experience - saying that the great enemy of those in prison was not hatred but indifference.

Encouraging prisoners to discover their artistic talents is not only giving them a means of expressing themselves, it’s giving us a means of taking an interest in those who otherwise might have no one to care what happens to them.

Koestler Award Namer