GALOTTI is a meeting point for musicians and friends of music.
It's a lab, a stage, a classroom and a bar. GALOTTI is for beginners and professionals and everyone in between. People go to GALOTTI in Zürich to make music, learn to play music, and listen to music. They enjoy creating tunes and hearing music in courses, in bands, in ensembles, at jam sessions, at concerts and, of course, at the bar.
How the GALOTTI Musiklab & Club in Zürich actually started
In 2014, my girlfriend moved from Chicago to Zurich. One might say it was a move from the Windy City to the Foggy City. In Chicago, she lived in Lincoln Square, a traditional German neighborhood with beer halls and bakeries. Like in many cities, the district has undergone a Renaissance over the past twenty years, with new boutiques, pubs, and restaurants opening up.
One of Lincoln Square's main attractions, though, is not the craft brewery or the park, but the Old Town School of Folk Music. Founded by folk musicians Frank Hamilton, Win Stracke, and Dawn Greening in 1957 in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago, the school has expanded over the years and now has its main facilities in Lincoln Park and Lincoln Square.
Today, the school is a cornerstone of the community and attracts well-known musicians from around the world. One of the thousands of musicians and students that the Old Town School of Folk Music attracted was Swiss musician and professor of cultural studies, Claudia Rüegg. In 2016, Claudia headed to Chicago to study the business model of the Old Town School and how it evolved into a place where musicians of all levels can come together to practice, to teach and learn and interact with folk music.
Claudia returned from her trip determined to bring the Old Town School model to Zürich. Along with a core group of folk music enthusiasts, she formed GALOTTI, named for Gotthold Ephraim, Lessing’s character Emilia Galotti. After a long search, Claudia and her collective found a location for the school: an old industrial building along the shores of the River Sihl across from the Sihlcity shopping mall. Because the building is in need of a complete renovation, they have an almost blank canvas with which they can work.
The current situation
From idea to realization, Claudia and her team knew early on that starting a music school would require countless hours of planning, vast amounts of energy and a significant chunk of cash. Because the school was meant to involve members of the community at large, they decided to reach out to the musically-inclined.
That is how team GALOTTI met the Roustabouts, my girlfriend's band. The Roustabouts, an American Old-Time string band, have been practicing in rooms at a band member’s work. Though the practice rooms are conveniently located, they do not allow for an audience and lack the vibe of having like-minded people around. Furthermore, the jam sessions that The Roustabouts launched to teach American Old-Time music to an interested public are held in an Irish pub, where space is limited. Claudia and her team knew that this situation was not isolated to the Roustabouts alone, but that many bands and groups were having a similar issue. Yes, Zurich needs a multi-cultural music school.
Though the practice room is conveniently located, it does not allow for an audience and lacks the vibe of having like-minded people near you. The jam sessions that The Roustabouts launched to teach American Old-Time music to an interested public are held in an Irish pub, where space is limited. Having a school for folk enthusiasts coming from many traditions would bring musicians together.
Crowdfunding for a creative space
After speaking with The Roustabouts and many other folk music groups across the Zürich area, GALOTTI knew they were on to something, but they needed to raise 60'000 francs for a deposit on the space. With hopes of engaging a broader audience and spreading the word beyond Zürich, Claudia and her team launched a crowdfunding campaign on WeMakeIt.
Before the campaign went live, the team followed the best practices of successful crowdfunding projects and did plenty of advertising. To sweeten the pot, The Roustabouts offered two free house concerts to anyone offering a pledge of 2'500 francs. Halfway through their month-long campaign, the collective is approximately three-quarters of the way to their funding goal. All funds will be put to use for the development of the GALOTTI Musiklab & Klub in Zürich.
If you believe that music and cultural exchange are essential elements to building a stronger community, you can support GALOTTI as an individual or in the name of your company.
Make your donation on WeMakeIt.
(All photographs copyright GALOTTI)