Awaiting the Return of the Crowd, Broadway to Increase Wheelchair Access

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Two months before most theaters on Broadway reopened, the US attorney’s office in Manhattan announced Tuesday that a major operator had agreed to provide more wheelchair access at its five theaters as part of a deal.

US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, announced that she has filed a lawsuit against Jujamcyn Theaters, alleging that their theater violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and made a deal with the company to fix it.

As part of the deal, Al Hirschfeld, August Wilson, Eugene O’Neill, St. The James and Walter Kerr theaters will provide 44 additional wheelchair-accessible seating and 54 aisle transfer seating, removing nearly 200 barriers to accessibility. theater toilets, concession stands, waiting areas and toll booths.

According to the announcement, Jujamcyn will also pay a civil penalty of $40,000.

“As New York City begins to reopen and welcome the world again, we are delighted that Jujamcyn Theatres, LLC is working in partnership with the office to improve accessibility at historic venues so all customers can enjoy Broadway.” Strauss said in a statement.

An email message sent to a Jujamcyn spokesperson on Tuesday evening was not immediately returned.

The first upgrades are expected to be completed by the end of September, according to court documents.

The deal with Jujamcyn is the authorities’ latest deal with companies that run Broadway theaters, many of which opened decades before the major milestone. Americans with Disabilities Act It was signed in 1990 and required greater accessibility for people with disabilities.

Accessibility in Broadway theaters has been a challenge for years, with issues ranging from limited wheelchair-accessible seating in movie theaters to a lack of accommodation at the box office. Broadway theater operators have made a commitment to make their facilities more ADA compliant.

in 2003The head of the Shubert Organization said it spent nearly $5 million to bring 16 halls into ADA compliance, following a recommendation from the US attorney’s office. “What we did was a combination of coercion and volunteerism,” said Gerald Schoenfeld, the organization’s president. “We were a volunteer collaborator.”

in 2014, The Nederlander Organization signed an agreement with the US attorney’s office to modernize nine facilities after the prosecution filed a lawsuit. The company has agreed to provide 70 additional wheelchair-accessible seating and 134 more aisle transfer seating and remove more than 500 barriers to accessibility in its theaters.

In general, for facilities built before the ADA took effect in the 1990s, barriers to accessibility need to be removed “where this can be easily accomplished,” according to the US attorney’s office.

The announcement of the deal with Jujamcyn comes as Broadway and other theater districts around the world prepare to reopen after the pandemic restrictions forced many of their doors to temporarily close. Some shows have responded by offering a streamed version of their own productions, allowing ticket holders to watch and listen from home. a blessing for those who personally find the productions inaccessible.

But as more people were vaccinated and pandemic restrictions eased, the demonstrations returned to their stage. (The first show returned to Broadway last month. Bruce Springsteen st. James Theater dazzled over 1,700 theatergoers with two hours of music and storytelling.)

The return to more face-to-face performances in theatres, concerns about the accessibility of the theater and Accessibility may be lost during the pandemic period.

Theater operators in New York said they were taking steps to improve the in-person experience for those who need help.

in New York in 2018 announced It would offer grants to Off Broadway and other small theaters to install software that allowed users to follow along with low-light smartphones and tablets.

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