By Barbara Bauer
Charles L. Burns Jr., who worked as an administrator for Four Seasons Arts and other symphonies, died Feb. 24 in San Francisco. He was 76.
Burns was born on Aug. 8 1936 to Beamen White Burns and Charles L. Burns, Sr. in Grand Ridge, Florida. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and performing arts from Florida A&M University.
In 1958, he moved to Chicago to pursue a graduate degree in social work. His work at the Jane Addams Park Field House led him to his life interest: promoting the arts as a tool to enrich the lives of families in economically deprived areas.
While working with Goodman Theatre productions in Chicago, Allied Arts Corporation and other venues, he helped develop projects at Raymond Elementary School to improve the quality of education.
Under Burns’ leadership, this work was expanded to other schools in the area. In 1961, his early work in Chicago led to the founding of “Urban Gateways,” which, 50 years later, has become a national model for arts education and has impacted the education and lives of millions of Chicago-area youth.
In 1962, he was awarded a Ford Foundation Administrative Internship Grant and was invited to work at the New York Philharmonic. He was later invited by the president of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies to serve as assistant conference manager.
Subsequently, he became assistant manager of the Hartford Symphony and the New Haven Symphony orchestras in Connecticut.
In San Francisco, Burns founded the American Institute for Cultural Development. Support for this program was made possible by several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.
He went to work for W. Hazaiah Williams 1988 at Today’s Artists Concerts/ /Four Seasons Arts as its development associate. He remained active in that position until his illness in December 2012.
Burns is survived by two brothers, Wayne Burns and Caroll Burns; one sister, Christine Pittman; and several aunts, nieces and nephews.
A memorial service honoring his life will be held Wednesday, March 20, 11 a.m. at Old First Presbyterian Church, 1751 Sacramento (at Van Ness) in San Francisco.
For further information, please call Four Seasons Arts at (510) 845-4444.