Pittsburgh Cultural Trust offers Autism friendly performance of The Lion King

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will serve as the third city in the country to present an autism-friendly performance of Disney’s THE LION KING, tailored to the needs of adults and children on the autism spectrum.  The special performance is scheduled for Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm., at the Benedum Center, 237 Seventh Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. 

Great seats are still available and can be purchased on the Cultural Trust website at www.TrustArts.org/Autism.  For additional information call (412) 456-2670.

Modeled after similar performances presented by TDF (Theater Development Fund) on Broadway and The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston, TX, this performance will provide a friendly and supportive environment for the audience.  Slight adjustments to the production will be implemented, including the reduction of jarring sounds and the elimination of strobe lights focused into the audience.  In addition, the Benedum Center lobby will offer quiet spaces and activity areas for families, while trained staff and volunteers provide encouragement and assistance to patrons. 

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is working closely alongside Disney Theatrical Productions, and also engaging local autism organizations and a host of local community liaisons who are expertly advising on various aspects of this project.

The Trust independently raised all the funds to underwrite expenses related to the performance.  This was made possible by the generous support of the Autism Connection of PA, Jack Buncher Foundation, The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, the FISA Foundation, Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation, Massey Charitable Trust, UPMC/UPMC Health Plan, and Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust

“The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust remains committed to making theater and the arts accessible to all audiences and is proud to underwrite all tickets for this special performance, making it affordable to patrons on the spectrum,” said Rona Nesbit, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Executive Vice-President.  “Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy this world-class production, and we will continue to direct attention to matters of inclusion and accessibility.”

“Theater productions typically require audience members to sit still in the dark and experience sudden, loud noises and music” said Marilyn Hoyson, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer at The Watson Institute.  “While this atmosphere is enjoyable to most attendees, it may be difficult for children with special needs, especially those on the autism spectrum.  The accommodations to this performance in a relaxed, friendly environment will make all the difference for the children and their families to enjoy it to the best of their abilities.  Kudos to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Disney Theatrical Productions for making this experience available to a Pittsburgh audience.”

Disney’s THE LION KING, on tour at the Benedum Center (September 3-29, 2013), is part of the PNC Broadway Across America-Pittsburgh series, presented by arrangement with The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Broadway Across America and Pittsburgh Symphony.


The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization. A major catalytic force in the city, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts.