Bill O'Driscoll

Arts & Culture Reporter

Bill is a long-time Pittsburgh-based journalist specializing in the arts and the environment. Most recently, he spent 21 years at the weekly Pittsburgh City Paper, the last 14 as Arts & Entertainment editor. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and in 30-plus years as a journalist has freelanced for publications including In Pittsburgh, The Nation, E: The Environmental Magazine, American Theatre, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill has earned numerous Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. He lives in the neighborhood of Manchester, and he once milked a goat.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

The long-running battle over the Christopher Columbus statue in Schenley Park moved closer to a conclusion Friday when Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced -- on the eve of Columbus Day -- that he agrees with the city's Art Commission, which voted unanimously Sept. 23 to remove the monument.

Photo by John Heller

With 19 years under its belt, “Off The Record” is surely Pittsburgh’s longest-running satirical musical revue. But while the coronavirus pandemic won’t stop it, neither will the 20th annual production be quite the same.

Photo by Karen Meyers

Lee Gutkind admits it, with a kind of relish: He used to lie about his age.

Photo by Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA News

The longtime president of the union that represents newsroom staffers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has resigned amidst allegations of workplace sexual misconduct. However, both the interim head of the union and a nationally known media-business analyst said the move won’t have a major impact on the long-running labor dispute at the paper.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

The run-down Victorian house on Apple Street, in Homewood, might escape notice save for the historic marker out front. But its boarded-up windows belie its status as one of the country’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

On Wednesday, a Kentucky grand jury decided not to charge Louisville police for the killing of Breonna Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong, with prosecutors saying that two officers who fired their weapons at the Black woman were justified in using force to protect themselves after they faced gunfire.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s Art Commission voted unanimously today to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus that has stood in Schenley Park for generations.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

One of Pittsburgh's top independent music halls is closing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo by Joshua Franzos / Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History has removed the life-sized diorama known to generations of visitors as "Arab Courier Attacked By Lions."

The exhibit dramatically depicted a man mounted on a camel fending off two big cats, presumably somewhere in the North African desert. It's a fictional scene, and not terribly accurate culturally or scientifically. But the exhibit has been on almost continuous display since 1899, and the male lion's gaping jaws, and the rider's terrified expression, imprinted themselves on countless schoolchildren.

Courtesy of hannibalburess.com

One night in 2017, comedian Hannibal Buress was out with some friends in Miami. He had a few drinks. Later, he says, by now on his own and with a dead cellphone, he offered a police officer $20 to call Uber for him. Buress says the officer refused, then followed him into a bar and ordered him to leave.

Courtesy of Stage 62

Small and mid-sized arts nonprofits in Pittsburgh are among the hundreds of groups who said they are still hurting because an online ticketing service has failed to pay them money they are owed.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Meetings of the City of Pittsburgh Art Commission are not known for heated debates. Attendees are much likelier to witness polite discussions of the architectural details of a new building, or how best to renovate a city park. But a pending debate may not only be fractious, but could concern the powers of the commission itself. 

Photo by Vanessa German

  

Two women, lifelong friends, consummate their yearly hotel-room assignation on the eve of Y2K. A man and a woman, near-strangers, have sex in a car outside the hospice where both their mothers are dying. A woman writes a long letter to her sister, who never knew their wayward father, who just died. A girl grows up understanding, but forbidden to speak about, her mother’s years-long affair with their pastor – and then becomes close to the pastor’s wife and teen-aged son.

Image courtesy of Remember What They Did

Artist Nate Lewis spent nine years as an ICU nurse in the Washington, D.C. area. And the Beaver Falls native has been more than a little aggrieved by public discussions of the coronavirus, especially how Donald Trump has downplayed the pandemic. But a new billboard campaign is giving Lewis and other artists a chance to shape the debate themselves.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Labor Day heralds the start of the fall arts season in Pittsburgh. And in any other year, theater companies, dance troupes and other performing-arts groups would be preparing to pack indoor stages with performers, and fill seats with patrons.

But as with nearly everything else in public life, it’s all rather different in 2020.

Courtesy of Contemporary Craft

Contemporary Craft closed the final art exhibit at its longtime home in the Strip District more than a year ago, in August 2019. The gallery was on track to open its new headquarters, in Upper Lawrenceville, in April, 2020.

Courtesy Western Pennsylvania Juneteenth Celebration

For years, Pittsburgh’s Juneteenth celebration has included a re-enactment of the Grand Jubilee of Freemen Parade, a festive 1870 march Downtown commemorating passage of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave Black men the right to vote.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

Sculptor Frank Vittor’s towering statue of Christopher Columbus was erected in Schenley Park, in 1958, with backing from the Italian-American fraternal group Sons of Columbus in America.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

A new grant-maker wants to help arts-and-culture groups in the region not simply survive the coronavirus pandemic, but emerge from it stronger, more diverse, and more equitable.

Courtesy of Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Historic street protests, unprecedented public support for Black Lives Matter  -- this spring and summer have created a new paradigm for attention to racism in America.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Susan Jaffe didn’t merely start work as artistic director at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre during the coronavirus pandemic: She actually was still involved in the interview process in the pandemic’s early days. And after she was offered the position, in March, she worried about moving to Pittsburgh and taking on her new role in the midst of a huge public-health crisis.

Courtesy of Chris Ivey

By any reckoning, the 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower, in London, England, was a tragedy. Seventy-two died in the blaze. But in Pittsburgh, filmmaker Chris Ivey says, one aspect of the fire has been too little remarked: the role of locally based corporation Arconic. The Alcoa spin-off manufactured the exterior cladding panels on the high-rise apartment that a public inquiry in the U.K. has identified as the primary cause of the fire.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

When the coronavirus pandemic hit back in March, museums and other cultural centers around the country were forced to close. Now many have reopened, albeit with restrictions designed to stem the spread of the virus. But they are struggling to attract visitors, and many are deeply concerned about the future.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

About 100 current or former employees of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh have signed an open letter charging the 37-year-old institution with racism and poor treatment of workers.

Courtesy of Arcade Comedy Theater

For nearly five months, the coronavirus pandemic has confined Pittsburgh’s performing-arts groups almost exclusively to online programming. Even after state rules loosened to allow performance halls to operate at reduced capacity, most decided it was unsafe or simply impractical to do so.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

For years, it served as a kind of gateway to Wilkinsburg: a colorful mural depicting community members that spanned a railroad overpass on Penn Avenue, on the western edge of the borough’s business district.

Art by Tom Scioli / Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC

Among comics fans, Jack Kirby is legendary. But as the singular artist originally responsible for much of the multibillion-dollar entity we now call the Marvel Comics Universe, he ought to be more widely known.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

On July 10, the day Rivers Casino reopened after a week-long closure that also shuttered bars and restaurant dining rooms in Allegheny County, there were signs the North Side gambling complex was trying not to take unnecessary chances.

Photo courtesy of the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater

Arts and culture groups in Pittsburgh hold all sorts of fundraisers, from traditional galas to more informal affairs. But one thing’s consistent: The fundraisers always benefit a single group -- the one hosting the party.

Courtesy of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Some workers at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh are trying to form a union. But the president and CEO of Pittsburgh’s largest and most iconic cultural institution is asking them to reconsider.

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