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.

  • Yorkshire Appeal

Serenity Room H301, HM Prison & Young Offender Institution Askham Grange, Watercolour and Gouache, 2020

Yorkshire Appeal

Support local young people in custody and beyond

We need your help to encourage young people in Yorkshire to realise their potential through art

Last year, nearly nine out of 10 children (89%) in Young Offender Institutions in the UK said they had been excluded from formal education and, according to the Prison Reform Trust, over two-fifths were aged 14 or younger when they were last at school.

Now, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, increased periods of lockdown have stripped away many of the vital education and wellbeing opportunities which ensure that young people currently in custody will be safe, ready and able to re-join our communities. For children, this meant a complete suspension of all face-to-face education for 16 weeks, suspended visits from family and friends, and according to Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, “unacceptably little time out of cell”.

This year, we need your help to extend our support for young people in the criminal justice system.

Our Yorkshire exhibition,  at the prestigious Millennium Gallery in Sheffield, from January to April 2021, will showcase artwork from prisons, Young Offender Institutions, secure mental health units, youth offending services, probation services and secure children’s homes in Yorkshire, celebrating the creative achievements of people in Yorkshire.

The show will be curated in partnership with Sheffield Youth Justice Service and will give a group of young people with experience of the criminal justice system a chance to develop new skills and raise their aspirations through art.


The Curation Project

Support the curation project

Participants will work together to select pieces and curate an exhibition of artwork from the 2020 Koestler Awards, challenging their self-perception and creating connections with local organisations with the potential for future volunteering and work experience opportunities.

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Art can give young people a new way to embrace formal learning which they may have previously found challenging. By using art to express themselves freely, young learners have a chance to re-engage with formal classroom learning, which can then lead them to gain new skills and qualifications to better equip them to play a more positive role in their communities.

Support the curation project and give young people the chance to make a positive impact on their communities.

  • £20 provides 1 young person with art materials to use during the curating sessions
  • £40 provides 1 young person with arts materials to use during the curating sessions as well as additional sketchbooks and materials to use once the curating sessions have ended
  • £50 provides 1 young person with a masterclass in arts and exhibition production, with insights into art handling, curation and marketing from experts at Museums Sheffield, as well as careers guidance.
  • £80 provides 1 young person with film and multi-media masterclass, exploring documentary filmmaking techniques and approaches as well as guidance in careers in video production

Yorkshire Appeal – Curation project

£70 of £1,000 raised
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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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Donation Total: £20.00

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The Exhibition

Sponsor a young artist

The exhibited artwork will be selected from visual arts, music and writing entered into the 2020 Koestler Awards, our national awards scheme celebrating creative achievement in the criminal justice system and over 100 people from establishments across Yorkshire will have their work included in the exhibition.

Donate here

Young people make up 13% of our Koestler Awards entrants, from secure children’s homes, secure training centres, young offender institutions, secure hospital units and adult prisons.

By sharing artwork and the diverse range of voices, stories, and talent of young people in Yorkshire with the public we can use art to build stronger, more accepting communities, and a brighter future for young people currently in custody.

Sponsor an Under-25s Koestler Award and give life-changing encouragement to a young person in custody in Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Appeal – Name an Award

£ 100.00

You have chosen to donate £100.00 annually.

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This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.
Billing Details

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.

Take me to my donation »

Donation Total: £100.00 Annually

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I feel more confident now. I feel I can express myself more.

A participant in our curation programme with young people from Walsall Youth Justice Service, 2017

The Koestler Awards helped me kickstart that journey. I submitted a poem and won a Commended Award. Having someone outside redeem your talents is crucial for artistic growth in such hopeless conditions.

John, Former Koestler Arts Mentee