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.

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.

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Protesters lined about a half-mile of Fifth Avenue, in Oakland, at noon Wednesday for the Interfaith Vigil for Black Lives. Passing motorists honked their horns in support of the roughly 200 demonstrators, who gathered to hold signs referencing scripture and bearing messages including “We Stand With Our Neighbors” and “We Are All God’s Creation – Put An End To Discrimination.”

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

About 20 of Pittsburgh’s independent music venues and promoters have joined a national effort to get federal relief for their industry, which has been sidelined during the coronavirus pandemic. Venues and promoters that present music and comedy said the shutdown has hit them especially hard, and there is no end in sight.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

In response to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases that Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald called “alarming,” the county is prohibiting on-site consumption of alcohol at bars and restaurants. The order takes effect at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Allegheny County health officials today reported 96 new COVID-19 cases, the second straight day that it has posted a record number of infections.

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. 

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