Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) is a labor organization founded in 1913. AEA represents more than 48,000 actors and stage managers in the U.S. In 1919, AEA joined the American Federation of Labor for formal recognition as a labor union. It is headquartered in New York City with branch offices in Orlando, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
AEA negotiates on behalf of its members for better rates of pay, better working conditions, set hours and other protections. Theaters that wish to host equity actors must fulfill certain requirements set out by AEA, including meeting basic pay requirements. AEA also has the goal to keep alive the tradition of live theatrical performance in the U.S.
AEA was a key player in the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts, and it continues to support various initiatives that promote and preserve live theater. AEA has helped to protect several historic Broadway theaters from demolition in the 1990’s, contending that they were an important part of America’s cultural history. Members of the AEA have access to health and pension plans, and they get assistance in negotiating contracts and benefits with individual theatres.