Sunday June 11, 2017

What's wrong with a giant duck?

The 16.5 metre-high inflatable sculpture Rubber Duck by Dutch conceptual artist Florentijn Hofman floats near Ocean Terminal at Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour on May 2, 2013. It is similar to the one that will float in Lake Ontario this summer.
 (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

The 16.5 metre-high inflatable sculpture Rubber Duck by Dutch conceptual artist Florentijn Hofman floats near Ocean Terminal at Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour on May 2, 2013. It is similar to the one that will float in Lake Ontario this summer. (Bobby Yip/Reuters)

Listen 4:58

You might call it "an absolute cluster duck." 

Or at least, that's what Ontario's Progressive Conservatives have said about the Liberal government's decision to fund a festival that will include a giant rubber duck. 

But Ottawa Citizen columnist David Reevely says the uproar over the giant rubber ducky is ridiculous, especially given the fact that the duck itself isn't costing $120,000 of hard-earned taxpayers money. 

"Some of the money is for the duck, but the grant's for the whole festival. There's an artisan market, a ship from the navy to tour, lumberjack games, a dance performance, et cetera. It's a festival. They're not just inflating the duck and calling it a day."

To Reevely, the question isn't whether should the Ontario government should have funded that festival or that duck, but more importantly if governments in general should fund fun? 

Rubber Duck

And he says, when you step back and look at all the festivals that are subsidized by government funding, you can't ignore the reality. 

"We've collectively decided that festivals are something we're willing to spend public money on because they're good for tourism, they make people happy and it's important to mark anniversaries," he says. 

Reevely argues that anyone can hold a "by-the-book summer festival" replete with face-painting, balloons, and second-tier headlining acts, and of course people will attend because it's something to do. 

"But what would really be fun is a great summer festival. That means doing some things differently. Taking some chances. A six-storey rubber duck won't change the world, but I guarantee it'll make you smile.  And you've probably heard way more about the Toronto waterfront festival now than you ever have before.If your government is going to fund a festival, don't you want it to try to be great?"