Our History

Artists Equity (AE) was founded in 1949 a national non-profit organization for professional fine artists. The founding artists recognized that the profession needed a trade association to improve economic and working conditions for fine artists. Governed by an all-volunteer board of working artists, the purpose of AE has always been to work collectively with individual visual artists as well as with organizations throughout the greater Philadelphia area to address the concerns of the profession. In 1997, the Philadelphia Chapter voted to become an independent organization to better serve the needs of its members and community.

Since its inception, Artists Equity championed improved economic and working conditions for artists, as well as the protection and expansion of artists' rights. The accomplishments of the Philadelphia/Tri-State chapter include the establishment of a One Percent for Art ordinance in Philadelphia, the organization of a Symposium for Health Hazards in the Visual Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the sponsorship of many celebrations of the visual arts throughout the Delaware Valley. AE has offered community outreach projects including free art workshops for children and studio tours open to the public. Additionally, we sponsor at least two juried exhibitions each year.

Current Goals 

Artists Equity Philadelphia/Tri-State continues to work toward these important goals. Our current advocacy projects include efforts to establish fair guidelines for juried exhibitions and to require clear documentation for original prints and reproductions. We also seek to reach a more expansive and inclusive membership in order to provide opportunities for individual artists as well as to serve the arts in the region in a more equitably representative manner.  


AE produces monthly newsletters and informative programs with topics that range from copyright law, conservation techniques to framing workshops and marketing. Networking opportunities and critiques are additional benefits for artists who often work in solitude.

Working together, we can accomplish far more than we can as individuals.

How Artists Equity Supports Artists and the Arts



  • Exhibition and networking opportunities for all levels of the profession in all fine arts media

  • Two annual juried member shows at upper-tier venues with monetary awards

Professional development opportunities

  • Workshops, lectures and panels on topics of importance to artists incl. marketing, copyright, licensing, framing, conservation and more.

Policymaking and Advocacy

Artists Equity's (AE) mission is in part, for the economic advancement for fine artists and to establish ethical business practices. Artists and colleagues are encouraged to become involved in AE to help develop and adopt policies that are equitable to living artists. AE drafts position papers and evaluates and promotes policies that support all who work in the fine arts.

'1% for Art', a program founded by Artists Equity and adopted across the USA

The '1% for Art' program established an ordinance in which one percent of public money spent on building projects must be set aside for the purchase of fine arts. Artists Equity Philadelphia Chapter, proposed this program to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority in 1959. The late Michael von Moschzisker, then chairman of the Authority, helped Artists Equity accomplish this goal.

The program, begun in 1959, was adopted by hundreds of local and state governments, as well as the federal government. The first of its kind in the United States, it has helped many sculptors, painters, and other fine artists place their work in public places.

In Philadelphia, “Clothespin” by Claes Oldenburg and “Government of the People” by Jacques Lipchitz are some of the sculptures that are now city landmarks due to the '1% for Art' program.

Why is the 1% for art program important?

•    It incorporates art into the fabric of life for all people.

•    Developers now include art in the early stages of development.

•    It advances and promotes the mission of Artists Equity: improved business conditions for professional fine artists.


AE policies that support working artists


Artists Equity is nonpartisan

It is important to remember that Artists Equity does not have a vote and is not a constituent of any legislator. These legislators may agree with us on the importance of the arts, but they do not hear from many actual voters who feel the same way. You can change that with a phone call, a letter or an email.​


Artists Speak: The revelations of contemporary artists, their lives, dreams, problems, joys and craft, 
was published in partnership with The Friends of Artists Equity Trust.

The book includes special introductions by Helen Mirkil, Dan Miller, Diana Moses Botkin,
Burton Wasserman, Moe Brooker, Eric Maisel, Dan Gottlieb and Lisa Hanover. 
The focus is on 79 contemporary artists, their eloquent expressions of joys and struggles,
and the motivations behind their art.

Two printings have sold out; however, the book is currently available for purchase on LuLu.

Purchase for $38.50 at:


2002-2020 Philadelphia/Tri-State
Artists Equity Association, Inc.© |
PO Box 804 Wayne, PA 19087