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Lincoln Center News

Big Umbrella Festival Returns to Lincoln Center

Fifth Edition of Groundbreaking Festival

Centering Neurodiverse Audiences and Artists
Creating Inclusive Experiences


April 2024

New York, NY (January 17, 2024) - The Big Umbrella Festival returns to Lincoln Center this April, featuring a weekend of free and Choose-What-You-Pay programming designed specifically for neurodiverse audiences of all ages—welcoming kids, teens, adults, and their families.


Now in its fifth iteration, the Festival includes an expanded array of events across campus varying in scale and genre. From the awe-inspiring Architects of Air’s Daedalum: a giant maze installation in Damrosch Park, to Theatre Motus’s intimate and adaptive TREE: A World in Itself, in which performers tailor the experience to each individual audience member, the Festival continues Lincoln Center’s ongoing commitment to making the performing arts accessible for all.


Launched in 2018, the Big Umbrella Festival centers audiences with autism and other developmental disabilities by sharing unique approaches to sensory-based, interactive, and intimate artistic experiences to meet audiences exactly as they are. Each edition of the festival has returned with expanded offerings for enthusiastic audiences across in-person, virtual, and outdoor events and installations. Photos/Videos from past festivals are available HERE.


This year’s inclusive tapestry of events across campus are designed to engage and resonate with neurodiverse audiences of all ages. Highlights include:


  • The ReelAbilities Film Festival, featuring in-person screenings of ground-breaking films by and about people with disabilities, as well as virtual options. (April 6 & 9)


  • Barrowland Ballet’s Playful Tiger—a thrilling interactive dance-theatre piece designed for neurodiverse young people aged 7 and up, telling the story of a tiger’s visit to a family home that turns their world upside down—resulting in brilliantly fun sensory engagement. (April 12-14)


  • A unique and intimate multi-sensory experience with Theatre Motus’s TREE: A World in Itself creates a welcoming arts environment where five characters continually adapt to meet the needs of their audience. (April 12-14)


  • Architects of Air’s Daedalum: A gigantic, whimsical maze installation in Damrosch Park, formed out of 19 egg-shaped domes, creating mysterious sight-lines and viewpoints for visitors to explore. (April 6-7, 10-14, and 17-21)


  • Piano concerts in the David Rubenstein Atrium from award-winning recording artist and personality Lachi—who weaves her experiences on Disability Pride and Culture with humor and storytelling. (April 13)


Part of a campus-wide series, all events are Relaxed Performances, providing a supportive social environment for individuals with autism, sensory and communication disorders, or learning disabilities. Attendees can enter and leave audience spaces as needed, vocalize, and move freely, creating a "no shushing" zone. Chill out spaces and visual art spaces are also available. For more information about Relaxed Performances, visit


Visual Guides in English and Spanish offer detailed directions, arrival instructions, and venue amenities with images. Additionally, all events are located on accessible routes with accessible entrances, restrooms, and seating.


Tickets for Choose-What-You-Pay events go on sale to the public on Tuesday, January 23 at noon. Learn more at


Assets are available for download HERE.



**ALL onsite press opportunities must be coordinated in advance. Please direct all inquiries to [email protected] and/or [email protected]. **





Big Umbrella Festival 2024


Saturday, April 06, 2024 at 7:30 pm**

ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York

Celebrating Disability Through Film

Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse

Presented in partnership with ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York

As part of this year’s Big Umbrella Festival, Lincoln Center joins forces with the ReelAbilities Film Festival, the largest festival in the world dedicated to showcasing ground-breaking films by and about people with disabilities. The week-long series of events is renowned for its wide-ranging international film selection, riveting conversations, and performances, presented annually across the New York metropolitan area.


**There will also be a VIRTUAL event offered on Tuesday, April 09, 2024 at 7:00 pm. Check back soon for details! **



April 6-7

April 10-14

April 17-21

11:00 am - 6:00 pm

Architects of Air’s Daedalum

Damrosch Park

Bring the whole family to experience a gigantic, whimsical labyrinth for three weeks at Damrosch Park. Daedalum is formed out of 19 egg-shaped domes, twisting and turning into the tunnels of a maze. Passing through the maze, the visitor discovers two original features—an incredibly intricate rainbow-colored tree and a cavernous dome. Translucent elements throughout the maze produce vistas and hues of considerable variety and subtlety, creating mysterious sight-lines and viewpoints, unqiue to the vistor's perspective. The 600-piece pattern of the main dome ceiling was loosely inspired by Rome’s Pantheon with its radiant oculus mimicking the sun and the Gustave Doré drawing of angels circling heavenward in Dante’s paradise.

*Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult (a minimum of 1 adult for up to 4 children)


This free interactive experience is open from 11:00 am–6:00 pm each day. Tickets are not required; just show up!



Friday, April 12 - Sunday, April 14 at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm

TREE: A World in Itself

By Théâtre Motus

Samuel Rehearsal Studio

TREE: A World in Itself is a multi-sensory, interactive universe enveloped in soft light, music, and silence, where five characters continually adapt to meet the needs of their audience. In an intimate and welcoming atmosphere, the performance offers a ratio of one performing artist per child to facilitate numerous personalized interactions with audience members. Would you like to experience the magical world of trees and feel the cool morning mist? Settle into mama bird’s cozy nest while she warms her luminous clutch of eggs. Plants, insects, and animals visit, accompanied by gentle melodies and rhythmic music. As evening falls, you’ll rest under a rising moon, stars, and shimmering Milky Way, gathering strength to spread your wings like a fledgling bird of light.


Motus' TREE: A World in Itself, was created for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and adapted for children with intellectual disabilities and/or reduced mobility.


Original idea and stage direction: Hélène Ducharme
Assistant stage direction: Danaëlle Ducharme-Massé
Artistic assistant and puppets: Marie-Claude Labrecque
Music: Julie Labrecque and Hugo Monroy Najera
Scenography: Normand Blais
Costumes: Érica Schmitz
Lighting and technical direction: Valérie Bourque
Production management: Valérie Bourque
Creative team: Salim Hammad, Paola Huitrón, Marie-Claude Labrecque and Hugo Monroy Najera
Supported by: Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Longueuil Council for the Arts, Petits Bonheurs, and The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)



Friday, April 12 - Sunday, April 14 at 3:30pm and 12:30pm

Playful Tiger

Barrowland Ballet

Clark Studio Theater

A sensory, inclusive dance-theatre performance made especially for and with neurodiverse young people aged 7 and up. It tells the story of a tiger’s visit to a rigid family home where he turns their world upside down. It’s chaotic and brilliantly fun, with a focus on sensory engagement. Playfulness within the work creates space for a two-way response between the audience and performers, with its adaptable approach allowing the individuality of each young person to be celebrated.

Playful Tiger is designed for a small number of audience members and their families to be able to accommodate a range of sensory needs and the most engagement.




Saturday, April 13, 2024 at 11:00 am and 7:00 pm


David Rubenstein Atrium

Share a moment with award-winning recording artist and personality, Lachi—GRAMMYs Board Governor and Founder of—with a piano concert of her critically acclaimed songs. Lachi identifies as Blind and neurodivergent, and she weaves her experiences on Disability Pride and Culture with humor and storytelling throughout the performance.



Saturday, April 13, 2024 at 5:00 pm

Philharmonic Playdates: Games and Toys

Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse

Presented in collaboration with the New York Philharmonic


Imagine having a playdate with the orchestra—where musical instruments are toys, songs become games, and we can make believe whatever our hearts desire! Join Philippe the Penguin and NY Phil musicians to make new friends and share in the joy of music. There will be hands-on activities and musical games before the 30-minute, hosted concert, geared towards neurodiverse audiences. The performance includes music from Schubert’s Trout Quintet.


Musicians from the New York Philharmonic
Rebecca Young, host
Doug Fitch, director / designer



Sunday, April 14, 2024

Creative Workshops: Animals in Motion

Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse

Sunday, April 14, 2024 at 1:30 pm

Mask making for all ages and abilities

Sunday, April 14, 2024 at 2:30 pm

Introduction to Access Resources (for TAs, Administrators, Educators)

Sunday, April 14, 2024 at 5:00 pm

Mask making for all ages and abilities


In these joyful, active workshops, participants of all ages and abilities are invited to join us for mask making and movement at 1:30 pm or 5:00 pm. We will create masks that represent different animals and embody our creations in a guided movement activity. These workshops are designed for young people with disabilities, but open to all.


We are also excited to offer a professional development opportunity for teaching artists, educators, and arts administrators. Please join us for the mask making and movement workshop at 1:30 pm followed by an introduction to accessibility resources for teaching artists and administrators developed by the International Teaching Artists Collaborative’s Global Working Group on Accessibility at 2:30 pm.



About Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (LCPA) is a cultural and civic cornerstone of New York City. The primary advocate for the entire Lincoln Center campus, our strategic priorities include: fostering collaboration and deepening impact across the Lincoln Center resident organizations; championing inclusion and increasing the accessibility and reach of Lincoln Center’s work; and nurturing innovation on stage and off to help ensure the arts are at the center of civic life for all. LCPA presents hundreds of programs each year, offered primarily for free and choose-what-you-pay, including many specially designed for young audiences, families, and those with disabilities.




Lead support for educational programming is provided by Anonymous


Support for the Big Umbrella Festival is provided by The Taft Foundation and Esme Usdan and James Snyder, and by public funds facilitated by New York City Council’s Autism Awareness Initiative


Lead support for Choose-What-You-Pay is provided by the Family of Robert Wood Johnson III


Additional support is provided by the PNC Foundation


Major support is provided by the Shubert Foundation


Additional support is provided by the DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund


Lincoln Center’s artistic excellence is made possible by the dedication and generosity of our board members


Operation of Lincoln Center’s public plazas is supported in part with public funds provided by the City of New York


Programs are made possible, in part, with public funds provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Empire State Development, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor, Mayor of the City of New York, the New York State Legislature and the New York City Council


NewYork-Presbyterian is the Official Hospital of Lincoln Center


United is the Preferred Airline of Lincoln Center Presents


Steinway is Lincoln Center’s Preferred Piano Partner






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For more information, please contact:

Isabel Sinistore

[email protected]



Rosie Marinelli

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