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. Subsequently, in 1968 eleven societies joined together to form the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.

NADFAS became a registered charity in 1970 and underwent a period of rapid expansion with the creation of many new Societies across the UK and with the launch of key initiatives such as Church Recording, Young Arts and Heritage Volunteering. From 1984 NADFAS welcomed overseas Societies in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. For her inspiration and vision Patricia Fay received an OBE in 1975.

Ipswich DFAS, was founded in 1993 under the leadership of Audrey Reading and a hard working committee and has gone from strength to strength. 

In 2017 the NADFAS national Trustees made the decision to rebrand to The Arts Society. After 50 years it was felt that the Society needed to evolve with the changing times. Following the national rebranding we are now The Arts Society South East Suffolk.