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Manhattan U.S. Attorney And Lincoln Center Reach Agreement On Compliance With The Americans With Disabilities Act At Avery Fisher Hall

Thursday June 28, 2012

Settlement Ensures Equal Access for Persons with Disabilities to Avery Fisher Hall

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States has filed, and simultaneously settled, a civil rights lawsuit in Manhattan federal court under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”) against Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. (“Lincoln Center”) for failure to comply with the ADA.  The settlement, in the form of a consent decree, was approved by U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon, and is designed to ensure that the historic Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center is accessible to persons with disabilities through the removal of architectural barriers to access. 

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “The comprehensive corrective measures agreed to by Lincoln Center will allow people with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to enjoy the performances offered at one of New York City’s most significant cultural venues, Avery Fisher Hall.  We are pleased that Lincoln Center has worked cooperatively with our Office to resolve this matter.”

According to the Complaint and the Consent Decree filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court:

Lincoln Center is a non-profit performing arts organization incorporated in 1956.  Avery Fisher Hall, then known as Philharmonic Hall, became the first of the Lincoln Center venues to open in September 1962.  It was renamed Avery Fisher Hall in September 1973.  Avery Fisher Hall operates primarily as a home for orchestral and classical music groups such as the New York Philharmonic and the Mostly Mozart Festival, as well as international orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra.  It is a venue for the acclaimed public television program Live from Lincoln Center and is also used for special events, fundraising benefits, and community events such as high school and college graduations.

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office initiated its investigation upon receiving a complaint from a member of the public that Avery Fisher Hall was not fully accessible due to architectural barriers to access.  Under the Consent Decree, Lincoln Center has agreed to make a number of changes to increase accessibility, including:

  • Installing additional wheelchair and companion seating, including wheelchair locations that are closer to the stage than its current wheelchair locations;

  • Installing seats with removable armrests;

  • Installing an automatic door opener to permit persons using wheelchairs to access the balcony;

  • Adding accessible and van accessible parking locations to, and improving signage in the Yellow Garage;

  • Renovating its restrooms on the first, second, and third tiers to make them accessible;

  • Renovating its restrooms on the Plaza and Grand Promenade levels to address barriers to access;

  • Renovating its food and drink service and retail areas to make them accessible; and

  • Installing appropriate raised letter or Braille signs.

In addition to Avery Fisher Hall, the Office’s Civil Rights Unit has taken steps to bring a number of significant New York City institutions into compliance with the ADA, since it was enacted in 1990, including the following: the Metropolitan Opera House; Yankee Stadium; Madison Square Garden; the Apollo Theater; the Puck Building; Shubert Theaters; the Rainbow Room; and Radio City Music Hall.

This case is being handled by the Civil Rights Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Byars is in charge of the case.






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