Lincoln Center Launches Program Geared Toward Young Audiences on Autism Spectrum

Lincoln Center Launches Program Geared Toward Young Audiences on Autism Spectrum

April is Autism Awareness month and this year Lincoln Center will be launching the Big Umbrella Festival, a unique program dedicated to arts programs for young people on the autism spectrum.

"Lincoln Center is not only dedicated to providing the best of the performing arts, but also to ensuring diverse and inclusive accessibility to that art,” said Debora L. Spar, President of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, in a press release. “Since we commissioned our first theater work specifically for those on the spectrum in 2013, we have had the privilege of offering sensory-friendly performances to students and families here at Lincoln Center. The Big Umbrella Festival expands our commitment to these audiences, offering performances throughout the city, special presentations by resident organizations across our campus, and a symposium to reinforce and develop the network of leaders dedicated to serving these audiences.”

The festival runs from April 10 to May 6, 2018 and will take place at Lincoln Center and the Queens Theatre.

Lincoln Center was one of the first major art institutions to commission work for children specifically on the autism spectrum. “We have been presenting theater for young audiences on the spectrum for five years,” said Russell Granet, Executive Vice President of Lincoln Center Education, in a press release. “We hear from children, parents, teachers, and artists that these experiences have a profound impact on audiences and their families. But we alone cannot fulfill the need for sensory-friendly performances here in New York or beyond. The Big Umbrella Festival will expand our performance offerings, engage partners across our campus and throughout New York City, and support other art-makers to create their own offerings for audiences on the spectrum.”

The lineup includes film screenings, concerts, and interactive music and dance workshops by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Here is just some of what audience members can expect:

Up and Away

Trusty Sidekick Theater Company
April 14, 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm, April 15, 21, 22, 28, 29, May 5, 6 11:30 am and 2:30 pm
Clark Studio Theater
Tickets $25

Up and Away is at once a story and an interactive experience, inspired loosely by the imagination of Jules Verne and his famous book Around the World in 80 Days. Seated in hot-air balloons, audiences join the Fogg Family Balloon Society on their 1,000th balloon ride. Featuring puppetry, live music, and interactive play, this “flight” travels through extraordinary places such as the Fog Bog, the Arctic Aviary, and Cloud Canyon, all with multisensory experiences. Each child in the audience has a one-on-one guide from the Fogg Family for the trip through the clouds.

NYCB Access Workshop 

New York City Ballet
May 6, 1:00pm
Samuel B. and David Rose Building, 7th Floor
Tickets $14 

This one-hour movement workshop specially designed for children with autism will feature the music, movement, and themes from New York City Ballet’s treasured repertory. NYCB Teaching Artists guide children in a ballet warm-up and movement combination, concluding in a lively performance for accompanying family and friends. No prior dance experience needed.

Big Umbrella Festival Symposium: The Intersection of the Arts and Autism

Thursday, April 19, 9:00 am–6:00 pm
Sean Ahlquist, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning University of Michigan
Cynthia Barron, Vice President of U.S. Social Impact, Sesame Workshop
Mickey Rowe, actor
Tim Webb, MBE, Oily Cart Artistic Director

How can the power of the arts be harnessed to impact young people on the autism spectrum as both audience members and artists? Lincoln Center Education leads a daylong investigation and discussion on the ways in which leaders from around the world are harnessing the power of the arts—including theater, film, digital media, and architectural installation—to open up new experiences for children with autism and their families.

Featuring a keynote presentation, panel discussion, and conversation, participants will join leaders in the field to explore best practices, analyze successes, and identify the challenges related to artistic work that impacts the autism community at large.

Main image by Alexis Buatti Ramos, courtesy Lincoln Center

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