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TDF announces sixth season of autism-friendly performances on Broadway presented through its Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI)

Date: Jul 21, 2016


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Theatre Development Fund (TDF), the not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, today announced their sixth season of autism-friendly performances presented through its Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI) for 2016-17.  This season’s slate of autism-friendly Broadway matinee performances will be: The Lion King on Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 1pm at the Minskoff Theatre, The Phantom of the Opera on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at 1pm at the Majestic Theatre, Aladdin on Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 1pm at the New Amsterdam Theatre and Kinky Boots on Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 1pm at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI) operates under the umbrella of TDF’s Accessibility Programs, also known as TAP.  Autism Theatre Initiative’s mission is to make theatre accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum, and their families. To create an autism-friendly setting, the shows are performed in a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. Slight adjustments to the production will include reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. In the theatre lobby there will be staffed quiet and play areas, if anyone needs to leave their seats during the performance. For these special performances, TDF purchases every seat in the theatre for sale at discount prices exclusively to families, groups, schools, etc. whose members include individuals on the autism spectrum.

“As this program enters its sixth season, what we’re seeing is a growing comfortability with the theatre going experience of the families with children and adults on the spectrum,” said Victoria Bailey, TDF’s Executive Director. “We are able to build on five seasons of work and can see with each new autism-friendly performance that a safe, supportive environment makes the experience of live theatre enjoyable for everyone. We thank the generous funders who support this program allowing us to provide several hundred tickets for each performance for those who cannot afford them, and to continue to expand and deepen it.”

“With each passing year we see this program become more and more far reaching as we consult with other theatres and share our best practices of how to provide an autism-friendly performance,” said Lisa Carling, Director of TDF’s Accessibility Programs. “I want to give a shout out to our dozens of ATI volunteers, many who are autism specialists, and some are actually on the spectrum themselves, who help make our autism-friendly performances run smoothly and create a secure environment for the attendees.”

ATI has previously presented autism-friendly performances of these three upcoming shows to sold-out houses.  Other Broadway shows that have been presented as autism-friendly by ATI since the program was launched in 2011 are: Elf: The Musical, Mary Poppins, Matilda, Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and Wicked.

For more information on Autism Theatre Initiative and how to sign up for upcoming autism-friendly performances and when tickets go on sale (they generally go on sale approximately 6-8 weeks prior to the performance date, exclusively through TDF’s web site, go to:


is comprised of eight programs which make theatre going possible for young people and adults with physical disabilities, as well as individuals on the autism spectrum. It provides a full range of services, from autism-friendly performances of theatre productions; accessible seating for those with mobility issues; and open captioned, sign language interpreted and audio described performances of Broadway and Off Broadway shows for theatregoers with hearing and vision loss. TAP also trains theatres here and abroad on how to set up open captioning programs and autism-friendly shows, and offers an educational enrichment program for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with low vision.


THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND was created in the conviction that the live theatrical arts afford a unique expression of the human condition that must be sustained and nurtured. It is dedicated to developing diverse audiences for live theatre and dance, and strengthening the performing arts community in New York City. Since 1968, TDF’s programs have provided over 83 million people with access to performances at affordable prices and have returned over $2.4 billion to thousands of productions. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, outreach, access (including its newly formed Autism Theatre Initiative) and education programs — as well as its Costume Collection — have introduced thousands of people to the theatre and helped make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone, including students and people with disabilities. Recent TDF honors include a 2011 Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture, a 2012 Tony Honor for Excellence for its Open Doors Arts Education Program, a 2012 New York Innovative Theatre Award for its support of the off-Off Broadway community and a 2013 Lucille Lortel honor for “Outstanding Body of Work” in support of the Off Broadway community. With the Broadway League, TDF recently launched the website, Theatre Access NYC ( which assists theatregoers with disabilities in finding accessible performances of Broadway show. For more information about TDF go to:

ATI is funded in part by:
The Theodore H. Barth Foundation; Helene Berger Foundation; Al Berr; The Bulova Stetson Fund; ; Dylandale Foundation; The FAR Fund; The Joseph H. Flom Foundation; The Friars Foundation; Harry S. Black and Allon Fuller Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; Joseph Gordon; Debra Hazelwood; McGraw Hill Financial; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Collaborates for Autism from the proceeds of Comedy Central's 2015 Night of Too Many Stars; New York State Council on the Arts; Stavros Niarchos Foundation; The SAP Charitable Fund; Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Foundation; Seventh District Foundation; The Taft Foundation; TJX Companies

ATI is supported, in part, by public funds from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

ATI program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.