Arts, Sports & Culture

We seek to cover our region's vibrant art and culture scene, as well as our iconic teams and the fans that follow them.

Expanded Arts and Culture reporting in western Pennsylvania is generously supported by the Jack Buncher Foundation.

Courtesy of Abrams Books

August Wilson wrote plays for adults. But Jen Bryant says the story of Wilson’s own life is important for children to hear.

Courtesy of ZYNKA Gallery

Jeff Jarzynka was in his 40s when his father was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Leaving his job and helping to care for his dad changed Jarzynka’s life in more ways than one. And the experience led him, ultimately, to open Pittsburgh’s newest commercial art gallery, one focused on showcasing local talent.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A youth baseball tournament, historical symposium and statues of Negro League players are among the local events that will commemorate the 2020 centennial anniversary of the Negro National League. The full celebration lineup was announced Tuesday at the Heinz History Center in the Strip District.

Kelly Strayhorn Theater


Queer and transgender artists of color will be featured at the My People: Festival of the Arts at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty this week.

Courtesy of the filmmaker

Julie Sokolow first encountered writer and activist Mark Baumer the way most people who’d heard of him did: through the quirky online videos he posted of his quest to walk barefoot across America to fight climate change.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

In Pittsburgh’s Allentown neighborhood, visitors can purchase a shark skull, read a recipe book of potions and catch a concert next to a mystical goat. The once-blue-collar neighborhood has been transformed into a center for creative entrepreneurship.

Fred Vuich / AP

Current and former professional athletes and players' unions have sued Pittsburgh over a tax levied on visiting pro athletes.

At issue are so-called "jock taxes" typically levied on professional athletes who work for short periods of time in cities.

The Pittsburgh lawsuit argues the city unfairly levies a 3 percent earned income tax on visiting professional athletes while taxing all other residents at 1 percent.

Courtesy of Associated Artists of Pittsburgh

Jurying an art exhibit usually means sifting through the submissions and choosing the best. For out-of-town jurors, that typically requires one visit to a single location. Juana Williams’ stint as juror for the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh’s 107th Annual Exhibition was a little more involved.

Williams is exhibitions curator at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, in Grand Rapids, Mich. She was recruited in early 2018 by AAP executive director Madeline Gent, who brought Williams to Pittsburgh twice to visit with artists around town and look at work.

Photo by Jeremy Tauriac / Courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Theater

It’s only a coincidence that “School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play,” arrives at Pittsburgh Public Theater just days after the touring production of Broadway show “Mean Girls” left the neighboring Benedum Center.

Photo by Andrew Weeks / Courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Choreographer KT Nelson said that before she could create a dance work about a legendary religious pilgrimage, she literally had to walk the walk. 

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Center for Arts & Media

It’s been a long way back for the Three Rivers Film Festival.

The festival began in 1982 and for years was a fixture of Pittsburgh’s fall arts season. At its peak, the festival, organized by Pittsburgh Filmmakers, screened two full weeks of independent and art-house films and classics from around the world at multiple venues, including its own three theaters.

Courtesy of Resonance Works

Maria Sensi Sellner studied composition and conducting at Carnegie Mellon University, and has worked in music all around the U.S. for more than a decade. But she said she had to dig to learn about the many talented women composers' troupes, like her Resonance Works Pittsburgh, were ignoring.

Art by Douglas Cooper / Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh Press

If Douglas Cooper is a sort of superhero of Pittsburgh murals, he has an origin story to go with it.

Mike Fabus / Pittsburgh Steelers


On today's program: Jim Rooney honors his father with a new tome; a local company brings dancers to the Hill District; community members gather to remember the 11 victims of the Tree of Life attack; Heinz is celebrating its 150th birthday; and a Pittsburgh-based refugee services program is going national. 

Pirates Fire GM Neal Huntington, Shake Front Office Again

Oct 28, 2019
Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pittsburgh Pirates' front-office overhaul is complete.

The team said Monday it has fired general manager Neal Huntington, the third high-profile dismissal following a last-place finish in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh parted with manager Clint Hurdle on the last day of the regular season. Team president Frank Coonelly stepped away last week and will be replaced by former Pittsburgh Penguins executive Travis Williams.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Company turns 150 this year, and to celebrate, Heinz History Center curator Emily Ruby collected stories in a new book, “57 Servings from the Heinz Table.”

Courtesy of Douglas Levine

Douglas Levine is a relative rarity in Pittsburgh: a full-time independent musician and composer. But it was a winding path to get there.

Outdoor Afro Celebrates Freedom In Nature

Oct 24, 2019
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Rue Mapp started Outdoor Afro as a kitchen table blog ten years go to shift the visual representation of who we imagine gets outside. The site has evolved into a nonprofit with Outdoor Afro leaders and participants all over the country. Mapp is the recipient of the 2019 Heinz Award for the Environment.

Photo by Jon Rubin

The words “There Are Black People in the Future” was blazoned on a rooftop billboard in East Liberty last year, confusing and even offending some. Indeed, critics got the billboard art project taken down in April 2018, a move that sparked its own outcry.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

The August Wilson House has been awarded a federal grant of nearly $500,000 toward restoration of the famed, Pittsburgh-born playwright’s boyhood home in the Hill District.

Officials say the funds will allow construction to begin on the 1840s brick house on Bedford Avenue, where Wilson, his mother and six siblings lived in the 1940s and ’50s. The $499,628 grant, administered by project partner Duquesne University, complements $5 million raised last year by a group of celebrities organized by actor Denzel Washington, among the nation’s most prominent Wilson admirers.

Courtesy of Sheri Fink / Washington and Jefferson College

On today's program: Author Sheri Fink tells Pittsburgh what it means to be prepared; a look at one free, community-based fitness program changing lives; the people and plans behind the URA’s latest deadline for the Civic Arena site; and how Friday’s 3rd Circuit Court ruling will affect protests outside abortion providers in Pittsburgh.

Jared Murphy / 90.5 WESA

John Werthman remembers the competitive spirit of high school basketball games that once played out on the court in the South Side Market House. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Former Pittsburgh Passion quarterback Lisa Horton will be inducted into the Women’s Football Hall of Fame later this year. Horton played for the local franchise for 15 seasons before retiring last year and currently serves as the team’s offensive coordinator. She joins 19 other women in the 2019 Hall of Fame class.

Lindsay Dill / City of Play

Bonfires inside metal cauldrons forged by local artisans will illuminate Allegheny Commons at this fall's inaugural Pittsburgh FireWalk carnival. The event was created by the arts organization City of Play as a nod to “historic autumn fireside traditions."

Sony Pictures

On today's program: The Pittsburgh Film Office is having to turn a lot of big productions away; Andy Warhol’s faith goes on display; the city is giving away its plants Downtown; and mental health treatment remains elusive for some defendants waiting to stand trial.  

Courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

Andy Warhol is arguably the most influential artist since World War II. But Warhol was full of paradoxes – at once aggressively public and deeply private, and a serious artist who presented his life and art as all surface: the soup-can paintings, the candy-colored Marilyns, the glitzy Manhattan social scene. Beyond his towering status, there’s not much consensus about who Warhol, a man whose works have sold for $100 million or more, really was.

Courtesy of City of Asylum

City of Asylum is one of Pittsburgh’s busiest arts presenters, offering free literary readings, live music and film screenings a few nights each week at its home base, North Side venue Alphabet City.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Opera

Like other traditional art forms – classical music, theater, ballet – opera is always seeking ways to attract new and younger audiences. While some critics argue radical reinvention is required, Pittsburgh Opera thinks it might have found another way: harnessing 21st-century technology to broaden the appeal of a genre whose masterworks are rooted in the 19th or earlier.

David Gilke / NPR

On today's program: Quil Lawrence is headed to Pittsburgh to share his experiences covering U.S. veterans; a public school teacher helps students get a second chance; Pennsylvania farmers are grappling with the impact of the trade war, which a Pitt political economist says was never a good plan; and a Revolutionary-era log house is being moved to historic Hanna’s Town. 

Courtest of Touchstone Center for Crafts

On today's program: Touchstone keeps traditional crafting alive in the Laurel Highlands; The Bellefield Tower is the last remnant of a community; Pittsburgh's three major sports teams are having a rough year; and the ACLU of Pennsylvania wants to throw out a state constitutional amendment referendum.