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The Niagara Artists Centre (NAC) has claimed responsibility for an intervention in the Ontario town best known as the home of the Shaw Festival. Members of NAC have painted neatly stenciled text onto the sidewalks of Niagara-on-the-Lake to create a walking tour punctuated with ten social criticisms attributed to George Bernard Shaw.

The quotations, each only a few sentences in length, combine to make the George Bernard Shaw Brevities of Social Criticism Walking Tour and they express Shaw’s conviction that a fairer and more equitable society is possible. They were painted on the sidewalks by visual artists in the approved heritage colours of Niagara-on-the-Lake in an attempt to stir visitors into reflecting on today’s social and economic issues. As well, the walking tour reconsiders the role that art plays in forcing us to engage us with these issues and preventing us from sidestepping them. In the critical, irreverent, and impudent spirit of Shaw, the walking tour is presented in a way that shows the impatience Shaw would likely have had with many of the bourgeois niceties of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

There are ten quotes on the George Bernard Shaw Brevities of Social Criticism Walking Tour which makes its way from Shaw’s Festival Theatre down Queen and Picton Streets and past the Festival’s Court House and Royal George theatres.

It’s estimated that the latex paint will remain on the sidewalk for about eight to twelve weeks before it wears away on its own from weather and pedestrian traffic

Ten quotes on the George Bernard Shaw Brevities of Social Criticism Walking Tour:

  1. There is no future for men, however brimming with crude vitality, who are neither intelligent nor politically educated enough to be Socialists.
  2. Gambling performs for the poor what property performs for the rich. Something for nothing.
  3. Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty; what is the matter with the Rich is Uselessness.
  4. A gentleman of our days is one who has money enough to do what every fool would do if he could afford it: that is, consume without producing.
  5. All who achieve real distinction in life begin as revolutionists. The most distinguished persons become more revolutionary as they grow older.
  6. Man is the only animal which esteems itself rich in proportion to the number of and voracity of its parasites.
  7. Most of the fashionable pleasures are too miserable to bear thinking about. That is why intellect is so unpopular.
  8. We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it, than to consume wealth without producing it.
  9. In Hell there is no hope, and consequently no duty, no work, nothing to be gained by praying, nothing to be lost by doing what you like. Hell, in short, being a place where you have nothing to do but amuse yourself, is the paradise of the worthless.
  10. The worst sin towards our fellow-creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity.