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at Saluda Shoals Park

A place of performance...

where the stage looks as if it were born of the forest itself. Surrounding it will be the sounds and sights of nature. Inside will be a magnificent performance venue, where symphony orchestras will be just as comfortable as community theater groups. Artists performing on the stage will embrace not only the audience, but the whole outdoors.

The theater will feature: • a covered stage • fixed seating for 500 people • lawn seating for 500 people • a rooftop event space

We believe there is no better way to learn than through seeing, hearing and feeling. That’s why Nature’s Theater is so important to us all. Many years ago, the vision for Saluda Shoals Park began to take shape – a park that connects people to the natural world through recreation, education and the arts. The community embraced it, businesses and government supported it, and today, years later, families enjoy its bounties year-round. Saluda Shoals Park is an amazing success story. Now, another component in the original vision is about to become a reality. Nature’s Theater was conceived as an outdoor stage in a casual setting – a place where the cultural diversity of our community and its artists can be celebrated; an opportunity for world renowned artists and performers to share their talents with others; a unique theater which expands our horizons and enriches the creative imaginations of our young people. This outdoor stage will touch our hearts as we listen to music, watch dancers, absorb the rich drama of plays, and become enthralled as a storyteller weaves a magical tale. And above it all, around us all, nature will continue to sing her songs and dance her dances as all blend together in perfect harmony.

“We are long overdue for a well equipped outdoor performing venue to showcase our unusually rich artistic talent. What a tremendous resource in our community, a theatre built in the midst of our gorgeous Southern landscape that will bring families together to celebrate the arts in a majestic natural setting.” William Starrett Executive and Artistic Director, Columbia City Ballet

Why here?

Saluda Shoals Park is a mere twelve miles from downtown Columbia; even closer to Lexington; next door to Irmo; and just downstream from Lake Murray. It is a rural landscape that is minutes from the State Capital. It is the anchor of the proposed lower Saluda Greenway, connecting Lake Murray to Columbia. The Park is a shining example of what public-private partnerships in concert with the community’s vision can do together. The land is here and it is the perfect home for Nature’s Theater, where casual meets creative, and fun and learning meld seamlessly together. Nature’s Theater will be the crowning jewel of Saluda Shoals Park.

Once an idea, now a plan.

Architects from around the world participated in an International Design Competition to design Nature’s Theater. Among many creative entries, one group understood and articulated this idea beautifully. New York-based Resolution 4 Architecture designed a magnificent yet practical outdoor stage that literally took our breath away. They worked their design magic to create a collaboration of art, nature and technology making the theater come alive in our minds. In 2009, the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission conducted an extensive strategic planning process which included interviews with community leaders, public surveys and town meetings to develop a Master Plan for the next ten years. The results identified Nature’s Theater as one of the top five priorities for the area. The Darla Moore School of Business conducted more research and interviews were held with churches, dance companies, musical and theater groups and schools to determine interest in Nature’s Theater. Community leaders met with arts professionals and business leaders throughout the region and found overwhelming support for the theater. Their enthusiastic responses tell us that this theater can be self-sustaining within five years, like Saluda Shoals Park which is also self-sustaining and immensely popular. Now, it’s time to translate the mind’s genius into a living work of art. Nature’s Theater will be seen and enjoyed by many of the 400,000 visitors to the Park each year. Families will visit, enjoy, tell their friends, and return for more events. Children will love the unique experience; so will teachers, performers and business leaders. We know this to be true because they’ve told us so. Now is the time to finish the vision.

“The result of the Midlands’ first national design competition in generations, Nature’s Theater poetically fuses performance with nature through exceptional architecture. Once completed, Nature’s Theater will take its place among the nation’s more memorable performance venues. It is truly a unique opportunity for our community to embrace design excellence.” Thomas Savory, AIA, LEED AP Founder & Past President, Columbia Design League

Nature’s Theater will be a magnet, resource, performance venue, and most important, an opportunity to connect all ages to what makes us uniquely human – the creative, remarkable world around us.

Saluda Shoals Park... a destination for the arts

Utilizing trails and outdoor structures as galleries and stages, performers and visual artists can be discovered celebrating the connection between art and nature. Here’s a taste of the arts at Saluda Shoals Park: • unearth – A celebration of naturally inspired art

• The Palmetto Mastersingers • Dick Goodwin Big Band

What Nature’s Theater Means to the Midlands

Nature - our most precious resource. Indeed, it’s what nurtures and supports us physically, even as being outdoors feeds our spirits and connects us to something larger than ourselves. Saluda Shoals Park had its destiny set in motion after the beauty of the area was discovered. Since families first began to visit the park, it has provided a haven for all ages to reconnect with the natural world around us.

• SC Shakespeare Company • Lake Murray Symphony Orchestra •

Sounds of the Shoals – performances by members of the Musicians and Song writters Guild

• Sapphire Moon Dance Company

And now, fulfilling the desires of our community will be the crown jewel in the park – Nature’s Theater. Casual, inviting, comfortable and endlessly changing. The arts community has already embraced the concept and eagerly awaits its unveiling. Business leaders recognize that this unique facility will bring tourism dollars and world-class performances to the area. Educators think of it as the ultimate outdoor classroom. Conservationists understand how critical it is for young people to understand our interdependence with the earth. Organizations of the highest stature are planning ways to utilize the park and theater’s vast resources for the good of our area. It is, quite simply, the best of all worlds – practical, yet creative; high-tech, yet rustic; thrilling, yet accessible. The community has wanted Nature’s Theater for more than ten years. And now, it’s up to all of us to make it happen.

“The South Carolina Shakespeare Company cannot imagine a more perfect place to bring the magical works of William Shakespeare to life than Saluda Shoals Park. What a great opportunity for citizens of the Midlands to have the Bard right in their backyard! It simply doesn’t get better than that.” Scott Blanks, M.F.A. Faculty Development Coordinator Benedict College

Nature’s Theater

is well-grounded. As a part of Saluda Shoals Park, Nature’s Theater has the support of a public-private partnership which is thriving. This is land which belongs to all of us. This is a park that takes our lush natural resources and manages them for generations to enjoy. Saluda Shoals Park provides a physical connection with nature and this theater takes it one step beyond. Nature’s Theater offers the next logical, practical step in the evolution of this most delightful of public places.

Think about the impact you make in this world. The legacy you leave behind. What does it mean to be unique? To be special in the eyes of children? To be part of something really important. Now, you can.

“Nature’s Theater will invite audiences to experience the outdoors as well as the arts, creating a greater appreciation for the environment and its value to the health and well being of our community. Experiencing a concert, a play, a ballet in the middle of the forest will no doubt connect us to our most precious resource . . . the earth.” Elizabeth B. Taylor Executive Director, Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission

Please join the business and community leaders who’ve pledged their support to complete the vision of Nature’s Theater. Discover what community leaders, educators, business executives and arts groups say about this wonderful addition to our area. And then, join us in making the curtain rise for the first time, here in this most magical of places. This is a symphony of nature and man, sounds of forest and sounds of song. Just like Shakespeare would have wanted. It is a perfect collaboration.

Will you support this exciting endeavor? Will you help open the eyes of children to the magic and beauty of Nature’s Theater? Will you play a part in creating this unique and accessible stage for all of the arts in the Midlands and beyond? Will you make a donation that supports our efforts to nurture a higher level of appreciation and respect for the arts and the environment? Thank you – from all the future generations who will grow up cherishing Saluda Shoals Park and Nature’s Theater. Call 803-213-2035, or donate via the web at

“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.” Baba Dioum 1968

The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission exists to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of the district through the development of recreation programs that promote a lifestyle of wellness, physical activities and cultural experiences for all ages. The Saluda Shoals Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization committed to serving as a steward of Saluda Shoals Park through financial support and as an advocate for the preservation and sustainability of the park’s programs and the environment.

5605 Bush River Road, Columbia, SC 29212 • 803-772-1228 •

Nature's Theater Case for Support  

Information about Nature's Theater. Case for suport to build the Theater in Saluda Shoals Park.

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