The story of The Arts Society Oxford
The Society began life as Oxford Decorative and Fine Arts Society (Oxford DFAS). The idea of starting the Society was first discussed in September 2008 by two people, Patricia Dugdale and Judith Brown, who became the first Chairman, and Vice-Chairman and Treasurer of Oxford DFAS. Both had at different times enjoyed studying the history of art at the Department of Continuing Education in Oxford and with a small group of interested people they formed the Steering Group that planned and set up Oxford DFAS, helped and encouraged by the national New Societies Adviser, Wendy Price.
We knew that Oxford already offered an amazing array of opportunities to attend lectures, join societies and study a range of subjects associated with the arts, but we believed that our society could offer something different – a series of lectures, study days and visits associated with the fine and decorative arts aimed at a non-specialist audience – and that there was a potential audience in Oxford for this kind of society.
So it has proved. Since we started formally in 2009 we have grown to 500 members. While about half our members are drawn from within the city itself, the rest live outside the city in the many villages and small towns in the surrounding area.
The Society was always affiliated to NADFAS (the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies). When NADFAS rebranded in 2017 and became The Arts Society, Oxford DFAS changed its name and became The Arts Society Oxford.
Although we still concentrate on the fine and decorative arts we have broadened our interests to include other arts such as music, theatre and dance.
The Society is taking steps to become a registered charity and this will enable it to play an increasing role in supporting art education and heritage conservation in Oxford.