RADical Days returns with month of free admissions and events throughout Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

RADical Days returns with month of free admissions and events throughout Pittsburgh

click to enlarge RADical Days returns with month of free admissions and events throughout Pittsburgh
CP photo: Jared Wickerham
The Andy Warhol Museum
The tired adage goes that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. But taxes in Allegheny County, it turns out, have their perks. In this case, the annual RADical Days initiative delivering tons of free events to people all throughout the county. The 2021 RADical Days will begin later in September.

A press release describes RADical Days as beginning in 2002 as a “thank you” to taxpayers with a weekend of free events from organizations that received support from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, informally known as RAD. (The RAD Tax is an extra 1% sales tax levied on Allegheny County purchases and goes to funding for parks, public libraries, cultural institutions, and distressed municipalities).

RAD boasts that it has invested more than $2 billion of grant support to the county’s arts and cultural organizations, libraries, parks and trails, and other assets since 1995.

Since its creation, the weekend full of free stuff has turned into a full month, with this year’s event running from Sept. 9–Oct. 10, during which people of all ages can enjoy perks presented by more than 60 area organizations.

RADical Days 2021 kicks off from Sept. 9-Sept. 11 with the Lights On! A Three-Day Celebration of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District. The three-day-long event will see Cultural District arts organizations, including the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh CLO, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Public Theater, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, celebrating the return to in-person events with a variety of free presentations.

The presentations range from live music, dance, and theatrical performances, to the Cultural District Gallery Crawl, all taking place Downtown and at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Allegheny Overlook Park on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Mobile Stage at the 8th Street Parking Lot at Penn Avenue, and the Trust Oasis on 7th Street.

From there, people of all ages can enjoy free admission days at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh (including the Andy Warhol Museum), Heinz History Center, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Mattress Factory, Frick Pittsburgh, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and other attractions.

The release goes on to say that, this year, the celebration “serves as a ‘welcome back’ for many organizations who are just beginning to reopen their doors.”

“The past 18 months of pandemic life have been a stark reminder of how vital community connection and cultural engagement are to the region’s quality of life,” reads the release. “While a return to these institutions and attractions has been long-awaited, RAD encourages participants to educate themselves on each organization’s safety policy and procedures before attending their events.”

There will also be free in-person performances from various local theater and music groups, including a Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concert at Heinz Hall; free tours by Heinz Field, PNC Park, and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center; and free open houses and art exhibitions by Contemporary Craft, North Hills Art Center, Silver Eye Center for Photography, and Associated Artists of Pittsburgh.

Attack Theatre, Film Pittsburgh, the Holocaust Center, Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, and Prime Stage, among other organizations, will offer free virtual programming for those still hesitant about going out.

This year, RAD, in partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and its member organizations, will also support the Restart the Arts campaign, described as a “vital public service campaign to re-engage arts and cultural audiences throughout our region.” This includes appearances by the campaign’s Artsmobile and live performances at select RADical Days events.

While RADical Days festivities are largely in-person, the recent rise in COVID-19 cases has led to participating organizations taking extra precautions, including requiring advanced reservations or setting capacity limits in venues. Other safety measures could include wearing face masks or providing proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

Safety protocols will also change depending on recommendations or orders handed down by local, state, and federal public health officials.

For a complete list of participating organizations, event schedules, and other information, visit radworkshere.org.