The Shaw Center Outdoor Amphitheatre:
A Center for Social and Cultural Life
At Homecoming 2012, the outdoor Shaw Center Amphitheatre proved to be the perfect final piece in a 17-month long, $16 million renovation. Throughout the weekend, crowds enjoyed the October weather from the Amphitheater. Whether the facility was hosting socializing and cupcakes at the 50 Year House System Celebration or accommodating the talents of Jens Lindemann, Wycliffe Gordon and the Yellowjacket Jazz Band at a rambunctious concert, the Amphitheatre proved to be a wonderful new hub for student life.
The Amphitheatre and its surrounding sidewalks now weave the pieces of Graceland’s campus cohesively together. A hospitable place for students to congregate, groups to meet, and outdoor classes to be held, the area that was a parking lot just two years ago is now an open space that has transformed the Quad into a peaceful pedestrian crossroads.
Built into the area’s naturally sloping landscape, the Amphitheatre is reminiscent of classic Greek amphitheaters. The venue includes three rows of formal seating and the grassy incline behind the rows is perfect for informal seating on blankets and lawn chairs.
“I’m excited to have the Amphitheatre as our new home for the “Jazz on the Green” concerts. It’s a much better acoustical facility and the audience can really see and hear us,” said Dr. Erin Bodnar, Department Coordinator. “The Amphitheatre is a community space that’s warm and inviting and it really helps us integrate music into campus life.”
The Amphitheatre doesn’t just host the arts, but athletic pep rallies, study sessions and quick lunches from the Swarm Inn. The area gives students the opportunity to experience a social and interactive dynamic not previously available on campus.
“The outdoor Amphitheatre allows us all to dream on a level that far surpasses anything we may have been thinking about before,” said Lee Bash, Special Consultant to Graceland. “It’s only a matter of time until big crowds and dynamic ensembles realize what a special, exciting and visually impressive performance space this is. The Amphitheatre may very well play a prominent role in Graceland’s future.”