The Arts Society Hosts a Celebration of Art History

This Autumn, over 100,000 people from across the country will attend over 400 events and lectures hosted by The Arts Society celebrating art, culture, education and an end to lockdown.

Due to the pandemic, this will be the first time many of The Arts Society’s members will attend their first face-to-face event since March 2020.

September 2021 marks an important milestone into the reopening of the arts with art history lectures re-starting, as well as coffee meetings, cultural visits, volunteering and arts discussion groups taking place locally, in person and online, across the country.

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In excess of 400 separate events will be taking place across the nation from Cornwall to Cheshire and from London to Lancashire. Artists and topics covered by some of the planned lectures include: Banksy, Grayson Perry, The Bayeux Tapestry, Caravaggio, Manet, Holbein as well as Histories of Canals, Wallpaper and Diamonds, to name just a few. 


Heritage visits include Eltham House, Norwich Castle, Syon House, a virtual visit to Venice and some events include cream teas and walking tours in Oxford.

The society provides a welcoming space for art lovers to come together – locally, nationally and globally, in person and online – with the opportunity to hear expert lecturers share their specialist knowledge about the arts. Some of the more unusual lecture topics include parks, fans and artists working within the criminal justice system as well as topics on interior design, jewellery, music and naval history.

With a programme full of events, The Arts Society is inviting non-members to attend events this autumn and also encouraging membership of what is the nation’s leading arts education charity, that encourages its members to expand their minds, celebrate the arts and make new friends. The society is a vital opportunity for those who are isolated or who live alone to connect with likeminded people and make new friends through a shared passion for the arts.

Lectures taking place

Below are just some of the many lectures occurring this autumn:

  • Banksy – Fraud or Genius by Pepe Martinez at Normandy Village Hall on 12th October 
  • Pots & Frocks: The World of Grayson Perry by Ian Swankie at The Corn Hall in Norfolk on 21st September and at Assembly Room, North Street, Chichester on 12th October  
  • A Decorative Art: History of Wallpapers by Jo Banham at Chalfont St Peter on 23rd September
  • Art Behind Bars by Angela Findlay at University of Portsmouth Eldon Building on 12th October
  • Caravaggio: the Master of light and shadow by Shirley Smith at Cley Village Hall on 21st September
  • Paintbrushes at Dawn: the world’s greatest artistic feuds, rows and quarrel by Barry Venning at ARCA Hall on 15th September
  • Treasures of the Fan Museum by Jacob Moss at Christ Church Harrogate on 15th November 
  • Edouard Manet and Music by Dr Lois Oliver at The Arts Centre, Evesham on 8th September
  • Japonism to Modernism: Japanese Influence on Western Art by Suzanne Perrin at The Sarisbury Green Community Centre on 17th September
  • Canal History & Heritage by Roger Butler at The Masonic Hall on 14th September and at Saxton Hall, Southend-on Sea on 6th October 

Heritage visits and guided tours

Below are some of the visits and tours taking place:

  • Crome exhibition at Norwich Castle on 1st September
  • Syon House and Park on 22nd September
  • Summer Cream Tea
  • Real-time tour of Venice via Zoom

Who are The Arts Society?

The Arts Society is the UK’s leading arts education charity with a network of over 380 local Societies to bring people together through a shared curiosity for the arts. Together they create a better, healthier and more connected society which promises to nourish and empower us all. With over 90,000+ Members, the society is an important organisation contributing to and preserving our artistic heritage.

History of the Society

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 they welcomed their first overseas Society in Germany, soon to be followed by Societies across mainland Europe, in New Zealand and Australia. In 1994 a central London premises was purchased in the heart of Bloomsbury, which is still home to head office today.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.

The society provides welcoming places – locally, nationally and globally – to hear expert Lecturers share their specialist knowledge about the arts. Our 90,000+ Members contribute to and preserve our artistic heritage through volunteering and grants. Our strength is our people, joined together by a passion for the arts which can nourish and empower us all. Our work creates a better, healthier and more connected society.

Making a difference when it matters most

During the last year at a time of national crisis, The Arts Society moved quickly to create a digital platform – The Arts Society Connected – to ensure its 90,000 Members as well as the general public who were forced to isolate inside stayed connected, educated, entertained. The Arts Society Connected caught the eye of the media and was featured in the likes of The Today Programme, The Guardian, Stylist, Antiques Trade Gazette, BBC Arts, The Weekand more. September will be a huge celebration for its members who have not had the opportunity to meet in person for 18 months.

Additionally, during this time, members of the society have been working in new and creative ways to support their local arts.

  • The newly-published 50 Treasures books spotlight some of the most inspiring local places to visit, and in doing so help our nation’s cultural sites on their roads to recovery.
  • At the Henry Moore Studios & Gardens in Hertfordshire, Arts Society Heritage Volunteers will be able to guide students, once more, around the site’s iconic monumental sculptures.
  • In Staffordshire, 20 volunteers from two local Societies have resumed posts at The Wedgwood Museum, which includes helping to log Josiah’s Wedgwood’s very own trials in clays and glazes. 

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