At Monday's Big Debate, hosted by The Birmingham Post and the NEC Group at the ICC, Germaine Greer made clear her dissatisfaction with the RSC and Stratford-upon-Avon. Here Post arts editor Terry Grimley gives his reply.
The trouble with taking part in public debates - and, bizarrely, I've just taken part in two in two days - is that your best contributions invariably occur to you too late.
You can bet your life that on your way to work the following day you will be framing in your mind the ideal riposte to some irritating inaccuracy or other.
And so it was yesterday. By the time I was half-way to the office I had polished to perfection the response I should have made 18 hours earlier to Germaine Greer.
Germaine doesn't care for the RSC, which she lumps in with the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre and English National Opera as bloated, elitist dinosaurs too weighed down by the sheer weight of taxpayers' money to be able to contribute anything worthwhile to the nation's cultural life.
Nor does she think much of Stratford-upon-Avon, which she sees as a nondescript place, all Marks & Spencer and Next, which in the quality of its environment bears no comparison with small cultural hotspots elsewhere in Europe. She seems to think the RSC is a liability to the town, which would be better off without it.
Prompted by the Big Debate's chairman, Richard Morrison, I managed to say with excessive politeness that I did not recognise the picture that Germaine was painting and that if there was a representative of the RSC to hand they would be able to quote the figure the company estimates it contributes to the Stratford economy.
In fact, a figure quoted by RSC executive director Vikki Heywood in The Post last week was #58 million to the region as a whole: there is no readily-available estimate for Stratford itself.
Germaine's retort was that Stratford subsidises the RSC, to which mine was that it does so to a very small extent: the actual figure, I have now discovered, is #25,500.
Her accusation that the RSC has no interest in the local population or the quality of its surrounding environment seems odd in the light of the company's forthcoming redevelopment of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which has been carefully co-ordinated with a major makeover of the Waterside area.
Fortunately playwright David Edgar, who has the rare distinction of having had his own work produced alongside Shakespeare's in Stratford, was in the house to offer a robust defence of the RSC and to do what I wished I'd done - applaud the spectacular achievement of its recent Complete Works season.
By the way, what a justified source of regional pride it is that, as Vikki Heywood pointed out, half the audience which sustained this amazing project came from the West Midlands.
Of course, this is unlikely to have cut any ice with Germaine, who doesn't rate the RSC's work. She couldn't hear what the actors were saying in King Lear. I have to admit I could - but then, unlike Germaine, I don't find any difficulty in parking in Stratford, either.
This stops being difficult as soon as you grasp that the days have gone when you could park for free across the road from the theatre. As long as you're willing to walk for five minutes, what's wrong with the Bridgefoot multi-storey?
Germaine's hostility to the RSC and Stratford should have come as no great surprise because it has been aired before in various articles in the Guardian. However it was somewhat unexpected on Monday because it appeared to be only tangentially linked to the theme of the debate.
Nevertheless it snatched yesterday's headlines, demonstrating that, while The Post was kind enough to describe the panel collectively as "arts gurus", Germaine can claim to a distinction the rest of us could not - she is a celebrity and an entertainer.
This absolves her from enslavement to tiresome facts or, in some respects, joined-up logic. Witness her suggestion that the arts in Britain might benefit from the removal of public subsidy coupled with her admiration for small German Stratfords with opera houses - which are, of course, the embodiment of Germany's lavish state funding of the arts.