A union of Scenic Artists was founded in 1895 as the United Scenic Artists Association, which was briefly a local of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE. When the AFL-CIO ruled that the local must leave the IATSE and join the painters union the organization chose instead to be independent. This independence lasted until 1918 when jurisdictional encroachment forced an affiliation with the Brotherhood of Painters. However, complete autonomy in its historical and traditional jurisdiction was guaranteed by the Brotherhood and was jealously guarded by the Scenic Artists for over 80 years.

On June 21, 1918, at their regular meeting at Geneva Hall in New York City, the Scenic Artists voted to accept a charter as United Scenic Artists of America (hence the USAA still seen in the union’s original “bug”) being Local 829, an autonomous local of the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paper Hangers of America (later to become IBPAT, the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades).

From that time forward, United Scenic Artists of America Local 829 grew to include Scenic, Costume and Lighting Designers, Mural and Diorama Artists, Scene Painters, Production Designers and Art Directors, Commercial Costume Stylists, Storyboard Artists and most recently Computer Artists, Art & Costume Department Coordinators, Sound Designers and Projection Designers working in all areas of the entertainment industry.

In 1983, a group of West Coast designers chose to affiliate with United Scenic Artists, and the Union opened a Los Angeles Regional office to serve them. In March of 1990, a merger with IBPAT Local 350 in Chicago was effected and thereby jurisdiction was gained throughout the United States.


Finally, on April 27 of 1999, after decades of suffering from a debilitating lack of common interest with the IBPAT, the membership of United Scenic Artists Local 829 voted by an overwhelming majority to re-affiliate with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and to disaffiliate from the IBPAT. The vote reflected a belief that the IATSE, an entertainment union, would provide better representation for United Scenic Artists, who work in every type of theatrical, dance, motion picture, television, opera, and commercial production in the United States and around the world. At a special meeting of the IA’s General Executive Board, United Scenic Artist’s request for re-affiliation was unanimously approved and United Scenic Artists, Local USA 829, IATSE was born. The members of IATSE Local USA 829 (so named because another Local 829 already existed in the IA) now enjoy full membership rights in the IATSE.

In its hundred-ten-plus years of existence, the local has negotiated Agreements with major film studios, television networks, the Broadway League, the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), numerous scenery supply companies, opera companies, ballet companies, and numerous independent production companies.