The Friends of
Suffolk Summer Theatres (FSST) was founded in 1986 by the late Margaret Chadd, MBE who was our President until her death in July 2018. The simple aim at that
time was to drum up local support in promoting the Southwold
Summer Theatre which Jill Freud and Company had inaugurated
two years previously.
The job of a Friend in those days was principally to
help with the distribution of the theatre's advertising fliers.
As a reward for their efforts, Friends were invited
to socialise with the company at a pre-season garden party at
the Freud home, Westons, in Walberswick. By the end of the first
year, 112 Friends had joined, 30 of whom attended the party.
was provided and everyone was asked to bring a plate of food.
The whole concept
was judged hugely enjoyable and a great success by all involved.
By1994 the Friends organisation had become a force
to be reckoned with. There were now 300 members paying their
annual subscription and the need for some kind of formal infrastructure
became apparent. The late John Veitch was appointed Treasurer and Jack
Clayton started a twice-yearly Friends' Newsletter
as a way of communicating with the increasingly far-flung membership.
The first issue was distributed in November 1996.
So successful was the newsletter at spreading the word that
membership growth accelerated and sufficient surplus funds were
generated to enable the Friends to start making significant
financial awards not only to help diffray the theatre's production
costs but to support the now discontinued children's
theatre and to contribute to the Summer Theatre's student fund
which at that time helped young performing arts students gain summer work
experience with the company.
By this time, the company was taking its productions to Aldeburgh
as well as Southwold and a whole new 'branch' of the Friends,
headed by Terry Collins, started fund-raising events there.
from the annual garden party and a variety of fund-raising events, the AGM is popular annual social occasion which invariably features an entertaining
2004 there were nearly 900 Friends and, as we grew in numbers
and as our aspirations as a grant-awarding organisation grew
in scope, it became clear that a formal, written constitution
was needed. At the same time, the potential financial benefits
of attaining charitable status were obvious.
decision to work towards charitable status was finally ratified
by the membership at an Extraordinary General Meeting early
in 2006. After a great deal of work by the committee, headed
by Chairman, Sidi Scott, the Charities Commission finally
granted the Friends charitable status in May 2007.
our new status came our new name: Friends of East Suffolk Performing
Arts, and our new broader mission...
To facilitate education in the performing arts for the people
of East Suffolk and to support a variety of theatrical initiatives
for the benefit of young people in particular and the community
We may do this
by making grants to individuals and organisations and/or
by providing expertise, manpower, opportunity and other resources.
is an unofficial summary of FESPA's goals. To read the full,
official version, visit our entry on the Charity
To see a summary
of our Charity's draft rules, click here(opens in new window)
To learn about the latest projects adopted by FESPA for support,