The Koestler Trust is the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. We have been awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for over 50 years.
The awards receive over 8,000 entries a year – inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, work for achievement and transform their lives. The national exhibition attracts 20,000 visitors – showing the public the talent and potential of offenders and people in secure settings.
“The current high levels of re-offending affect us all. To make our society safer, it pays to channel offenders’ energies to positive ends, to build their self-worth and help them learn new skills. The arts are an especially effective way of engaging with offenders who feel alienated from mainstream education and employment, and there is growing evidence that the arts are an effective in changing offenders’ lives. At the Koestler Trust, we monitor and evaluate our activities to review their effectiveness. However, our main role in this debate is to showcase the range and quality of creative work produced in prisons and other criminal justice settings. The artwork we exhibit demonstrates powerfully what offenders can achieve with the right support and educational input.”
Over the past few years, I have worked closely with learners and groups who have been awarded over 100 individual Koestler Trust Awards ranging from silver, bronze, gold and platinum for their achievements in music composition, songwiting, production, performance, digital media and video production.
This classical composition entitled ‘Life & Glory’. It was written and produced by a student of mine who I worked with in HMP Kilmarnock who had no experience of musicianship, composition or music at all. Over a period of time, he worked and studied composition, music theory, audio production, music history and learned piano quite affluently.
In 2010, one of his compositions,’Life & Glory’, was entered to the annual Koestler Trust Awards as a means of recognising his hard work and musical achievement. To his credit, the composition and recording won 3 awards – The Koestler Trust Highly Commended Award, The Koestler Trust Platinum Award and the Cooperative Koestler Silver Award- an amazing achievement for anyone.
This experimental work entitled ‘Carnivale’ is also notable as it was awarded not only a Koestler Trust Award, but also came 3rd place in the Koestler Trust Release Award- an accolade nominated by patrons and visitors to the Koestler Trust for Scotland Exhibition that was held in the Glasgow Tramway Theatre in 2013.
Continuing to support rehabilitation through access to music education and creative practice has led to a large number of significant awards being continually achieved by learners who I work with in the Learning Centres of the Scottish Prison Service. This is testament to the willingness of learners to make a positive change in their lives through music education intervention and also the dedication and exceptional learning and teaching practices of Lecturers who work in the Prison Education sector in Scotland.
For further information about The Koestler Trust, click on the image below to be taken to the website.