One City Hall insider shakes his head and grins. "You don't see this every day," he says. "People rallying for taxes."
Nor, especially, do you see them doing it from atop stilts, or wearing a swimsuit and an inflatable duck. Taxes are a form of whimsy now?
Hardly. In fact, the link between public investment and artistic health is deadly serious for the 200 gathered at the September 19 rally in Nathan Phillips Square (organized by theatre activist Darren O'Donnell, artist Lisa Pijuan-Nomura and the Toronto Free Gallery's Heather Haynes) in support of the proposed Land Transfer Tax.
But that doesn't keep them from kidding around. Roy Mitchell of Trinity Square Video offers a satirical send-up of the self-satisfaction of tax grumblers.
"When we want theatre, we go to New York. We don't go out, we stay home," he says. "Toronto should focus on the big things, like the Michael Lee-Chin crystal and the lights on the CN Tower -- things we can see from our cars!"
The most stirring words come from Trinity-Spadina's Councillor Adam Vaughan.
"I was talking to some of my former colleagues in the media before this started, and they said, 'Wow, a couple of hundred artists -- that's not much to be scared of,'" he relates.
"But if the Real Estate Board ever saw 200 artists in a neighbourhood, they'd start looking around for things to sell. That's what the Real Estate Board does -- they follow the arts community to neighbourhood after neighbourhood."