Project information

Reaching inside

Our 50+ years' of experience and a growing body of evidence show that participation and achievement in the arts can catalyse positive change in the lives of offenders. We will visit 25 secure establishments UK-wide to encourage and support creativity. Please help us reach our £10,000 target.

January 2016 - December 2016

Charity information: The Koestler Trust

The Koestler Trust logo
  • Need


    Across UK secure establishments art rooms are closing and art provision is being cut. The Chief Inspector of Prisons has recently reported that, in men's prisons in particular, there is a chronic lack of purposeful activity for prisoners. More than ever before therefore, there is a need for us to visit and connect face to face so that we can inspire more creativity and support the rehabilitation through education agenda. Education staff also need our help to keep art on the prison learning agenda.


    We will run workshops in 25 secure establishments to encourage participation in the arts. 5 workshops will include ex-offender ambassadors who have benefited from our work and who can inspire others with their stories of how art has helped them rebuild their lives.
    ‘Thank you for your visit. Your accessible presentation, knowledge of the awards and instinctive interest in the work being produced naturally spurred aspiration from quite unlikely quarters...' Prison education curriculum manager

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To motivate prisoners to take part in the arts through prison education and independently


    » Design a programme of 25 visits targeting establishments where we can have the most impact
    » Deliver interactive workshops on these visits inspiring arts practice including that which requires minimal resources and which can take place in cell

    What success will look like

    Success will be strong participation in the Koestler Awards by prisoners, secure patients and detainees from establishments we visit and positive feedback from inmates and staff

    Aim 2

    To advance the skills and development of ex-offenders by involving them as ambassadors during visits


    » Provide tailored support to enable ex-offender ambassadors to tell their story during visits about their journey in the arts post release

    What success will look like

    Success will be involvement of ex-offenders in 5 of our visits and feedback from them about how the experience has increased their skills and confidence

  • Impact


    The UK is the only country in the world that has an annual programme of arts awards and exhibitions for prisoners. The Koestler tradition is hugely valued by the prison service and a source of motivation for prisoners UK-wide. Success will therefore be protecting, sustaining and developing this unique driver of creativity long term so that we increase our impact on offenders and our benefit to society as a whole. It will be evidenced through an increase in the Trust's capacity to catalyse change


    Pressure on prison staff may mean that visits are cancelled at short notice or scaled down. We will deal with this by advance planning so that visits can be rescheduled. Our workshops include an activity on telling others about our awards so that we spread the word beyond those who attend.

    It is difficult to secure access to prisons for former prisoners. We have therefore set a manageable target for ambassador visits, and will use our experience and relationships to gain access for them.


    Donors to this project will receive two reports on progress - in May and in December. These reports will include feedback from the people who have benefited from our work and an update on progress and our learning.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £10,127

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £1,656 Project design and evaluation Director of Outreach - includes workshop design and liaison with establishments to set up visits
      £3,550 25 workshops Various staff to deliver these - half to a full day each
      £2,500 Travel and accommodation For 25 visits UK wide
      £1,500 Ambassador costs Fee and travel expenses for visits
      £921 Overheads Overheads (governance and finance etc.) at 10%
  • Background


    Our visits programme will encompass secure establishments across the whole of the UK. We will tailor the project to the establishments where we believe we can make the most difference, including those where arts provision is being cut, where prisoners are serving long sentences, and where participation in our awards has decreased.


    The Koestler Awards are open to all prisoners, secure patients and detainees UK-wide. 3,000+ individuals enter our awards each year from over 300 establishments. Our workshops are tailored to be appropriate for their audience, whether they are new to education or already undertaking qualifications. They are accessible and presented in a lively manner, with lots of advice and ideas for independent arts practice, as well as suggestions about how to inspire others to take part.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Koestler Trust has been catalysing creativity across the secure estate for 53 years. Our history and brand mean that we are trusted and valued by prisoners and prison governors alike, giving us exceptional reach UK-wide. Our exhibition programme, which runs alongside our annual awards, ensures that we are also a much needed link between secure establishments and the outside world. Success in the Koestler Awards is therefore prestigious providing further motivation for offenders to achieve.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Sarah Matheve

    Sarah has been leading our work with secure establishments for 7 years and her expertise will guide the project.

    Sally Taylor

    Sally, our new CEO will contribute her expertise of how the arts deliver social change and will undertake a significant proportion of the visits.