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TDF announces the 5th Season of autism-friendly performances on Broadway presented through its Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI)

Date: Jul 30, 2015


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Theatre Development Fund (TDF), the not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts today announced their fifth season of autism-friendly performances presented through its Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI) for 2015-16.  This season’s slate of autism-friendly Broadway matinee performances will be: The Lion King on Sunday, September 27, 2015 at the Minskoff Theatre, Wicked on Sunday, February 7, 2016 at the Gershwin Theatre, and Aladdin on Sunday, March 6, 2016 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Additional performances may be added later in the season.

Autism Theatre Initiative comes 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.

“When we launched the Autism Theatre Initiative in 2011 we had no idea that the program would have such a far-reaching impact. We’ve since consulted with productions in cities across the United States as well as England, Ireland and Australia to help them present their own autism-friendly performances,” said Victoria Bailey, TDF’s Executive Director. “We thank the generous funders who support this program that allow us to provide several hundred tickets for each performance for those who cannot afford them. We will continue to work with our audiences and the wonderful productions that collaborate with us on this service, to provide the best experience possible.”

“Until the creation of ATI, TDF Accessibility Programs (TAP) had a roster of programs that provided access to tens of thousands of theatre goers with physical disabilities,” said Lisa Carling, Director of TDF’s Accessibility Programs. “The success of the Autism Theatre Initiative showed us that people on the autism spectrum or with other developmental or cognitive disabilities would have a wonderful experience at the theatre with their families, in a safe, non-judgmental environment. It’s thrilling to watch these special performances.”

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

For more information on Autism Theatre Initiative about to sign up to hear about upcoming autism-friendly performances and when tickets go on sale (they generally go on sale approximately 6-8 weeks prior to the performance date and sell out within days), go

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.

TDF, a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, 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 90 million people with access to performances at affordable prices and have returned over $2.5 billion to thousands of productions. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, outreach, access (including its 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. For more information, go to:

ATI is funded in part by:
Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund, Helene Berger Foundation, Bulova Stetson Fund, The FAR Fund, The Flom Family Foundation, McGraw Hill Financial, The National Endowment for the Arts, New York Collaborates for Autism with the proceeds from Comedy Central’s Night of Too Many Stars, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Foundation, SAP Global Marking, Inc. Seventh District Foundation, The Joseph LeRoy and Ann C. Warner Fund, Inc.