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.

  • Radio 4 Appeal

Sky, HM Young Offender Institution Polmont, Painting 2018

Our Radio 4 Appeal

Supporting our work with young people in custody

When you step through the door of a prison art room, the first thing you notice is the atmosphere. People are calm and focused, and the pressure of day-to-day life in prison is momentarily forgotten.

For young people like John, this is what saved his life.   

Our BBC Radio 4 broadcast on March 24, recorded for us by artist Jeremy Deller who has been joining us as a judge of the Koestler Awards for over ten years. He told John’s story, a former Koestler Awards entrant and mentee who went to prison at 19 but was able to turn his life around through the transformative power of art.

Read more of John’s story here, as well as those of other young people whose lives have been changed through the Koestler Awards.

The support that Koestler has given me has afforded me my liberty, and it has healed me from inside… it’s created a new person, if I’m entirely honest.

John Costi, artist and former Koestler Awards entrant

Our Radio 4 Appeal is now over but, if you’d still like to support our work, we would appreciate any gift you can make.

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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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Donation Total: £25.00


pays for an award for a young person in the 2019 Koestler Awards


processes one entry to the Koestler Awards, from handling, logging in, judging and sending feedback and a certificate.


ensures someone like John gets year-round support through feedback and encouragement


Koestler is very special to me because without it I wouldn’t be where I am now. To have received the validation, while I was in a room without a handle on the door, that I could do stuff that didn’t involve crime was a revelation to me.

John Costi, artist and former Koestler Awards entrant