Also foreign students are welcome to pitch in – survival Finnish required.
When you see Tanssisali Lutakko for the first time, from outside, you don’t really know what to expect. Its industrial appearance, as it was an old bakery on the outskirts of the city center, can be quite deceiving.
The building was once condemned to be torn down in the city plan, right when cultural activities started there. After a struggle for preservation, renovation of the building was completed for Christmas 2005.
Nowadays the building is occupied by Jelmu (Live Music Association of Jyväskylä), YAD – Youth Against Drugs, Ashtanga Yoga Association of Jyväskylä, and the traditional dance association Ison Tanhuujat.
The building consists of rehearsal rooms for several purposes, art galleries, offices and the main area is used for concerts.
Jelmu, the organizer of most of the concerts in Lutakko, is a non-profit association based on voluntary work. Its approximately 100 volunteers also maintain 20 rehearsal spaces for local bands.
Who visits Lutakko for the first time might have the idea that it is a heavy metal place, or at least very rock oriented. But don’t let the appearances fool you. Although Lutakko has a ”rustic” design, Jelmu is proud to let the house open for any kind of music and welcomes all tribes.
Jelmu also offers accommodation, meals and sauna for the bands performing at Lutakko, which differs it from any other concert hall in the world.
Only about one percent of Jelmu’s budget consists of subsidies and the rest is covered by ticket sales and sales proceeds in general, as well as by other independent fund-raising.
Besides the voluntary workers, there are six paid workers and often also a few interns paid by government employment funds. The employees help in every activity the house requires: they cook, they clean, they do inventory, serve tables, and manage everything, as a real team. This is the main ”secret weapon” of Lutakko: they are a team.
The volunteers work at Lutakko for different reasons: professional experience, future internship and/or for the love of being in a place filled with music and companionship. They don’t get financial advantages, but they certainly get some benefits: they can watch the concerts for free, Jelmu organizes several parties during the year for them and sometimes they get other paid jobs due to their experience working at Lutakko.
The volunteers are called to work many times per year: all it takes to work at Lutakko is contact Jelmu and tell them how badly you would like to be part of the team. Then you just need to wait for the next training opportunity.
Foreigners are also welcome to work at Lutakko: Jelmu is starting a new program for exchange students and foreigners studying or living in Jyväskylä are also welcome to apply as volunteers.
Just bear in mind the main language is still Finnish. Therefore, a foreigner will be able to learn the tasks and work well, but it will be required to learn some Finnish to be really part of the team, in all senses. Working in such an environment, though, is a great way to learn more about the language and the Finnish life.