Thomas Burrows, executive director of the University at Buffalo's Center for the Arts, has announced his retirement after 20 years leading the organization. He will depart the UBCFA on Sept. 30.
Burrows arrived at the UBCFA in 1996, two years after it opened. The relatively new organization was still in need of establishing its place within the Western New York cultural community. He quickly worked to create new audiences for the arts and provide opportunities that enrich the university and community-at-large by educating, enlightening and entertaining people of all ages and walks of life. Under his leadership, the organization boasts an eclectic mix of events and entertainment in the area, and maintains a dual mandate of serving the university's academic mission while also positively impacting the greater population. The UBCFA has welcomed more than 3 million people through its doors.
In more recent years, Burrows led efforts to expand the CFA's reach beyond events within its facility. Selected highlights include the creation of a media production department and "Music Is Art Live at the Center" - a series of 41 original television programs featuring primarily Buffalo-based musicians and visual artists. The series was broadcast on WNED's ThinkBright and on the NY Network.
In 2008, Burrows led the establishment of the UBCFA "Arts in Healthcare" initiative, an ongoing partnership with Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
He has supported the regional community with his time and expertise, serving on the board of the Irish Classical Theatre Co.; Shaw Festival governor's council; Artpark & Company board of directors; the board of the Arts Council of Buffalo and Erie County; the film advisory board of Buffalo and Erie County; and the University at Buffalo Asian studies and Canadian studies advisory boards. He also served on the board of directors of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare. He recently joined the board of Lehrer Dance.
Burrows was a recipient of The Buffalo Alliance for Education and the Niagara Frontier Industry Education Council Pathfinders Award, and the Arts Council in Buffalo and Erie County's Arts Administrator Award. The University at Buffalo presented him the Professional Staff Senate Distinguished Service Award. Burrows was also named a Distinguished Fellow by the Society for the Arts in Healthcare for his contributions to the field.
He reflected on his time at the CFA in this recent story in UB NOW: http://www.buffalo.edu/ubnow/stories/2016/09/burrows-retirement.html
Prior to this appointment, his love of the arts and presenting established his role in several distinguished organizations, including: managing director of theatre operations at Yale School of Drama in Connecticut; general manager of the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake; general manager of the O'Keefe Center (currently Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) in Toronto; and general manager of Hamilton Place in Ontario, Canada.
Burrows will continue to make the Buffalo area his home and said he looks forward to spending more time with friends and family, while also continuing to support the arts in the community.