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.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Allegheny County Health Department on Saturday announced 90 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily total since reporting on the pandemic began in mid-March.

Courtesy of Gensler + HDR in association with luis vidal + architects

Air travel looks different now, and not just because traffic has declined precipitously. Travelers at Pittsburgh International Airport, for instance, must wear face coverings and practice distancing, and staff have ramped up cleaning practices, all to combat spread of the coronavirus.

Courtesy of Stop the Violence Pittsburgh

From its best-known settlers and its industrial tycoons to its Eastern European immigrants, Pittsburgh is often typecast as a white city. But the history of African Americans here runs deep.

Courtesy of Stageline

Even as Pittsburgh museums announce plans to reopen, performing-arts groups are still struggling to decide whether and how to resume live shows during the coronavirus pandemic.

Courtesy of Gene Pembroke

There’s a whole subculture of artists and craftspeople who make their living traveling to fairs and festivals to sell their work.

The coronavirus pandemic has not been kind to them.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s newest mural is the words “Black Lives Matter,” painted in white letters 12 feet tall in one of Downtown’s most prominent spots: on the wall of the Allegheny River wharf, right across from PNC Park, along a busy riverfront trail.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

With Allegheny County in the green phase of the coronavirus pandemic, many museums and other cultural institutions have either reopened or are preparing to. But the visitor experience there will be different, at least at first, and performing-arts groups still face big hurdles on the way to resuming operations.

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Maps are usually seen as tools. But they can also be art.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

With Allegheny County entering the green phase of reopening from the coronavirus pandemic Friday, bars and restaurants will be free to serve dine-in guests for the first time since March. But not all establishments will reopen right away, and for those that do, the rules will be much different.

Autumn House Press

In 1991, the brutal civil war in Liberia caused poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley and her family to emigrate to the United States. The war splits her story nearly in two: To escape her home country, Jabbeh Wesley has said, she literally had to walk over dead bodies.

Gene Puskar / AP

For 60 years, the Three Rivers Arts Festival has been held largely outdoors. Recent festivals have drawn some 500,000 visitors to Point State Park over 10 days, making it Pittsburgh's biggest public arts event.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

It began as a march, one of dozens across the United States, to protest the death of a black man at the hands of Minneapolis police. Thousands marched through Downtown Pittsburgh and the Lower Hill District, and even as they chanted “no justice, no peace,” the police kept their distance.

That changed after about two hours, as police cars were burned, buildings vandalized, and police used tear gas and horses to disperse crowds. Shortly after 7:30 p.m., public safety officials had declared a curfew to go into effect from 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday. 

Art by Tony Buba / Miller ICA

Tony Buba is among Pittsburgh’s most acclaimed independent filmmakers. And like so many people these days, he’s admittedly obsessed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

One of the area’s largest and most stable sources of funding for libraries, parks and arts groups is cutting about $20 million in grants this year due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo by Albert Cesare

You might call it “Are You Smarter Than A Naturalized Citizen?”

Courtesy Carnegie Museums

Pittsburgh’s museums argue they should be allowed to operate during the “yellow” phase of the state’s coronavirus re-opening plan.

Photo by Erin Brubaker / Art All Night

While arts events can’t happen in person right now, some translate online more easily than others: plays and concerts on a screen are missing something, of course, but essential information still gets conveyed.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Third-party food-delivery apps like Grubhub, Doordash and Uber Eats can seem great to diners who don’t want to cook for themselves but don’t want to leave home, either.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

It’s one thing to learn economics or world history off a lecture on Zoom. But try it with dance, acting – or tuba.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

County sales-tax revenue has plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic, and that’s bad news for groups that depend on funding from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, or RAD.

Photo courtesy of City of Asylum.

During the coronavirus shutdown, most arts groups are exploring online programming. City of Asylum is rolling out what it calls the region’s first shared programming channel.

Lucy Hogg / Courtesy of ecco

Andy Warhol was one of 20th-century art’s great success stories. He was born in 1928 as Andrew Warhola, the son of working-class Eastern European immigrants in Pittsburgh, and improbably went on to wealth and global fame as almost a living embodiment of celebrity itself.

Ted Baumhauer

The Pittsburgh Fringe Festival is an ambitious grassroots undertaking. Since 2014, it’s been a showcase for storytellers, theater troupes, musicians, and others from around the country and beyond, largely in borrowed and repurposed venues like coffeehouses, churches and even the back rooms of bars. 

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater

Normally this time of year, the New Hazlett Theater would be buzzing with activity, and theater, dance or music nearly every night of the week – and even during the day.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Wednesday, April 8, saw probably the nicest weather since the coronavirus shutdown began: sunny and topping 70 degrees. At about 5:30 p.m. that day, the Three Rivers Heritage Trail was packed, at least for the mile or so along the Allegheny River between Heinz Field and the Veterans’ Bridge.

Google Maps

A massive federal program to aid small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic still isn’t helping the smallest, or those owned by minorities, critics in Pittsburgh and elsewhere said.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Sonja Finn closed her East Liberty restaurant, Dinette, the day after Allegheny County reported its first case of COVID-19.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Earth Day

Since 1970, April has been the month for Earth Day. But while the coronavirus pandemic has pushed Pittsburgh’s official, in-person Earth Day festivities to August, organizers have cultivated a virtual alternative for collectively celebrating nature and the need to protect it.

Photo courtesy of Knotzland

Just weeks ago, experts were still debating whether masking in public truly helped slow the spread of the coronavirus. Then, on April 3, came the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that anyone leaving home wear a facemask. In Pennsylvania, the order came from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office the same day. Now masks are practically a mandatory accessory.

Courtesy of Off Their Plate

A month ago, the coronavirus shutdown halted dine-in service at restaurants. Many pressed on with takeout. For the Vandal, a gourmet spot in Lawrenceville, that strategy didn’t work out, says co-owner Joey Hilty. After a few days, the Vandal laid off all seven employees and shuttered entirely.

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