The other knowledge that critics ought to be prepared to display is some familiarity with the material Blackett’s department actually funds. I figure you can’t say it’s not crap unless you’ve at least poked it with a stick. Can the indignant Paul Gross, who received $5.5 million from the Alberta taxpayer for Passchendaele, claim intimate familiarity with In a World Created by a Drunken God or Caution: May Contain Nuts or The Last Rites of Ransom Pride? If not, then why is he shooting off his mouth?
It would surely be much more sensible for Gross and for like-minded critics to admit that most culture funding inevitably pays for crap—that the arts world is, in fact, a colossal pyramid of crap, inherently necessary to provide the nurturing and elevating environment from which a few items of permanent value might spring.
But that is something the culturati can never admit. Kirstine Stewart, the general manager of CBC’s English television operations, reacted in the Globe to Blackett’s comments by saying “Nobody can ever question the quality of what we do here in Canada, creatively or otherwise.” Surely this is a much more revealing and intriguing comment than Blackett’s.