Have you ever heard of the Theatre Development Fund? If you are a Clay Aiken fan or someone who has had the opportunity to attend a show on Broadway, you probably know more about the organization than you think you do. The most visual project that they have is running the TKTS Discount Booths. These booths offer tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals and plays at up to 50% off.
The Theatre Development Fund is the largest not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts in the United States. It was established in 1968 to foster works of artistic merit by supporting new productions and to broaden the audience for live theatre and dance. For almost 50 years, TDF has played a unique role in strengthening the performing arts in New York City. TDF’s programs have:
- Filled 87 million theatre seats
- Provided subsidy support to over 900 plays, including 30 Pulitzer Prize honorees
- Returned over $2.4 billion to thousands of productions.
On October 2, 2011, TDF Accessibility Program launched the Autism Theatre Initiative that makes theatre accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum, as well as their families. The first autism-friendly performance of a Broadway show was Disney’s landmark musical “The Lion King”.
This up-coming Sunday, March 8, the matinee performance of Disney’s Tony Award-winning musical, Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theatre, will complete the fourth season of autism-friendly performances presented by TDF’s Autism Theatre Initiative (ATI).
According to TDF:
When we put this performance of Aladdin on sale, it sold out in record time, less than five hours. In addition to illustrating how popular the show is, it highlights the need these families have to attend live theatre in a safe and supportive environment. We’re excited about what the fifth season will bring.
The company of Aladdin and a panel of autism experts collaborated on ways to slightly modify the show to make sure autistic children did not have negative reactions to loud or sudden sound or light cues. The volume in the opening number and other scenes, including the sound of a roar, was turned down. All strobe lights and lighting that panned into the house were cut. The sound and light reductions were done electronically so that neither the actors nor the orchestra had to tone down their performances.
Off stage, there will be small activity and quiet areas set up in the lobby for children who need a break from the show. Volunteers from local autism organizations will be on hand to offer assistance. The house manager of the theatre has asked the pedicab drivers who park outside the theatre to refrain from ringing their bike bells.
Lisa Carling is the Director of Accessibility Programs at TDF. She said:
Disney Theatrical Productions was instrumental in helping us develop this program for people on the autism spectrum
Congratulations to all the people involved in the up-coming event at Aladdin. The show is a sell-out and I am sure that everyone in the audience will be thrilled with the experience.
Oh Dear!! No mention of Clay Aiken in this article.
I would imagine that Clay is proud that his friends and colleagues will participate in this wonderful project.
This is Inclusion at its best!