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 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.

Eyeing Social Change, Pirates Star Josh Bell Finds His Voice

Jul 6, 2020
Frank Franklin II / AP

Josh Bell wanted to make a statement with his actions, a way to channel the disgust the Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman felt in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May.

Yet as the crowds surged in downtown Pittsburgh last month during a planned peaceful protest, he fought the urge to join in.

He couldn't help but notice the helicopters buzzing. He checked the Internet and saw what began with a positive vibe had shifted to something darker. Wary of the optics and the fallout, Bell, who is Black, heeded the advice of his girlfriend.

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 / WESA

Prosecutors asked a judge to stiffen the home confinement and probation sentences imposed on a former librarian and a bookseller who pleaded guilty in the theft of rare books from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in a years-long scheme.

Common Pleas Judge Alexander Bicket sentenced 56-year-old John Schulman earlier this month to four years of home confinement and 64-year-old Gregory Priore to three years of home confinement. Both were ordered to spend a dozen years on probation after completing their sentences.

Kiley Koscinski / 90.5 WESA

It’s been two years since the bronze statue of Pittsburgh-born composer Stephen Foster and a barefoot black man playing a banjo was removed from Schenley Plaza. The statue was denounced for decades, but the criticism gained steam in the aftermath of a deadly protest in Charlottesville, Va. over the removal of Confederate monuments.

Tomlin: Steelers Will Support Players If They Opt To Kneel

Jun 23, 2020
Gail Burton / AP

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wants his players to feel comfortable speaking out about social justice in any way they see fit, provided it's done “thoughtfully and with class.”

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file

August Wilson is going Hollywood, after a fashion.

The famed playwright from Pittsburgh will be honored with a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Los Angeles.

Wilson was among the Hollywood Walk of Fame's 2021 honorees announced last week. Also announced as honorees in the Live Theatre/Live Performance category were Sarah Brightman and Luciano Pavarotti.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A former librarian and a bookseller who pleaded guilty in the theft of rare books from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in a years-long scheme have been sentenced to lengthy terms of home detention and probation by an Allegheny County judge who cited the coronavirus in sparing them time behind bars.

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.

Ray Stubblebine / AP


On a sunny Sunday afternoon, a group of a few dozen people wearing baseball caps and athletic gear carry bags of baseball bats and buckets of balls to Gardner Field in Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill neighborhood.

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.

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.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: A local author revisits the motivations behind one of history's most influential political wives; some big businesses in Pittsburgh could face grim prospects; and a new private grant program offers small businesses an alternative to federal loans. 

'A Step Toward Normalcy': NHL Shapes A Return To Play

May 27, 2020
Mark Humphrey / AP

Rosy as the news might sound, Gary Bettman made no promises in announcing the NHL has the framework of a plan in place to return to the ice.

“We hope,” the commissioner said, “that this is a step back toward normalcy.”

The league and its players overcame a significant hurdle Tuesday when Bettman formally unveiled a 24-team expanded playoff format in which games could start as early as late July in two yet-to-be-determined cities.

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.

Charitable Runs, Walks Learn To Adapt To Crowd Limits

May 25, 2020
Gene J. Puskar / AP

The coronavirus pandemic has forced charities or nonprofit groups to cancel or postpone an untold number of walks and runs that raise money for everything from Alzheimer's to Parkinson's.

Pennsylvania Race Track To Resume Racing, Flouting Shutdown

May 22, 2020
Google Maps

A Pennsylvania dirt track that says it’s already been cited twice for flouting Gov. Tom Wolf’s business shutdown was expected to draw hundreds or even thousands of people to its first auto races of the season this weekend.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The southern hilltop neighborhood of Allentown is a walkable community with a number of historic buildings and beautiful murals. 

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.

Joshua Pickering

On today's program: The new head of FBI Pittsburgh talks cybercrimes and counterterrorism; and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson sheds a little light on the mysteries of the universe ahead of a rescheduled trip to Pittsburgh.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania is working on guidelines to allow sporting events, exhibitions and leagues, both professional and amateur, to get back to “some semblance of normalcy” after practically everything shut down to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday.

Photo by Albert Cesare

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

Matt Slocum / AP

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday that NASCAR can hold its races at Pocono Raceway in late June if the coronavirus situation improves in the area, though the races might have to go off without fans.

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.