In 1974 when the NPAA was founded, there was a need for professional artists to band together to help each other promote the visual arts as well as to protect their artistic endeavors from being exploited by an uninformed public.

Most non-artists thought painting, drawing, and sculpting were "fun", "easy," and a "hobby." Therefore non profit organizations would call upon artists to donate works for auction to raise money for worthy causes and give nothing to the artist in return. Many times the work was sold for a small sum and often criticized. This was especially true in the case of abstract art.


Where other professionals were asked for tax deductible monetary contributions, the artist was expected to give his work freely.

To initially create a uniform policy for art donations, three local artists and one art advocate (the Schabackers and Sundbergs) formed a basic organization that would represent local professional visual artists. The organization, named the Northwestern Pennsylvania Artists Association (NPAA), then decided it would base its membership on the national organization "Artist Equity" which required its members to be accepted to at least three national exhibits. The first committee chosen to draft the bylaws included: Dan Burke, John Deckard, Tony Ko, Andrew Sanders, Betty Schabacker, Carl Sundberg, and John Vanco.

Now in its 50th year, the NPAA organizes several annual exhibits for its 100+ members’ participation, annually donates college scholarship monies to local graduating high-school seniors, and generally promotes the visual arts in the tri-county community.