Bachelor of Science (Honours)
School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Gallan, Ben, ‘Mild-mannered bistro by day, eclectic freak-land at night’ The Oxford Tavern as Heterotopia and Cultural Asset, Bachelor of Science (Honours), School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, 2010.
In an era in which regional planning is increasingly influenced by a creative cities agenda cultural infrastructure is becoming increasingly relevant. While creative city planning and debates about cultural infrastructure are in their infancy it is timely to critically assess how infrastructure is connected to cultural practices. Focussing on the Oxford Tavern, a pub and music venue in the city of Wollongong, this thesis introduces heterotopic space as neglected sites of social and cultural significance. This thesis aims to: 1. document how participants describe their experiences of participation in a local scene; 2. analyse the relationship between a music venue and a music scene; and 3. theorise how the Oxford can be understood as a cultural asset for Wollongong. In doing so, this thesis critically positions the Oxford within academic and policy discourses of creative cities and cultural infrastructure.
For the researcher, on-going participation in the music scene of the Oxford was an overarching influence for the development of this project - as such participant observation contributes to the methodological approach. This was accompanied by utilising qualitative methods of interviews, oral histories, photographs-as-prompts and discourse analysis.
The findings of the thesis are structured around three results chapters: The first documents the participants’ experiences in the scene of the Oxford. The second discusses ways in which participants articulated the scene’s relationship to the material structure or space of the pub. The third discusses constructions of ‘local’ evident in participants’ narratives, and what this means for creativity and culture in Wollongong. The results are synthesized through a discussion chapter of how the Oxford’s scene and venue relates to the cultural infrastructure debate in Wollongong.
Key conclusions are: 1. that the Oxford is a space where significant experiences occur in the lives of the scene’s participants; 2. the relationship between the scene and venue is intricate and has a convoluted and sometimes contradictory historical development; and 3. the emphasis on ‘local’ contributes to the Oxford’s social experience and broadens the scope of the venue as a vital piece of local cultural infrastructure. How local policy-making might draw on these conclusions constitutes the final discussion of the thesis.