Our Story

Our Story

In 1965 The Chiltern Antiques Group was founded by Patricia Fay and a pioneering group of young women eager to be educated about the arts.

Just a few years later, in 1968, eleven such Societies came together to form the National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS).

In the 1970s NADFAS became a registered charity and underwent a period of rapid expansion with the creation of many new Societies across the UK, and the launch of key initiatives such as Church Recording, Young Arts and Heritage Volunteering.

For her inspiration and vision Patricia Fay received an OBE in 1975. The Patricia Fay Memorial Fund was established in 1980 following her death a year earlier, aged 46.

In 1984 we welcomed our first overseas Society in Germany, soon to be followed by Societies across mainland Europe, in New Zealand and Australia.

On 17 May 2017, following a major rebranding exercise, The Arts Society replaced NADFAS as our operating name. After 50 years, we needed to evolve to keep up with changing times in order to reach out to more people in more places.

During 2018, celebratory events took place worldwide to mark our 50th anniversary. The year opened with a hit exhibition - The Age of Jazz - at London's Two Temple Place, and was followed, in May, by a Celebration of the Arts at Westminster Abbey. 

Photo: Andrew Dunsmore

Today The Arts Society continues to grow to adapt to our changing times. During the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 Member Societies successfully managed to temporarily move their monthly lectures online. We also introduced some new digital offerings; Lectures at Home, 80 Days and Artvent, to keep Members and the general public entertained and engaged with the arts.