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GJUTERIET - a brief review

The Gjuteriet (The Foundry) is a former industrial estate that today is housing many different cultural societies in Karlstad. The whole building amounts to approx. 3 100 square metres. Around 20 societies rent their own permanent offices or assembly rooms, 3 amateur theatricals have their rehearsal premises and storerooms, Sensus musical preschool teaches approx 300 children per week and the theatrical school has several groups for more than 100 children and teenagers. Media societies use their own photographic laboratories, video shop and local radio studio.

Study circles, mostly within nature and environmental areas carry on their activities classrooms and about 30 musical groups practice in 9 soundproof rehearsal rooms and have as well access to a recording studio. Workshops in the basement are hired by 7 small businesses and other workshop areas are used by another 3 music groups and used as well as storerooms, a small recording studio, garages etc.

Besides the activities that different groups are occupied with in the permanent areas, the Gjuteriet´s assembly rooms are occasionally used by several other societies, organizations and schools for meetings, lectures, education etc. Roughly 20 societies have more or less regular conferences in common meeting hall.

Like a heart in the middle of the Gjuteriet there is a cafe. It has become a popular meeting place for both people that work in the Gjuteriet and those who live and work in the surrounding area. During the terms in the cafe the Gjuteriet arranges a series of lectures and art exhibitions (for amateur artists). The cafe is also the reception in the Gjuteriet, where visitors can get information, booking assembly rooms, etc

Even if the different activities in the Gjuteriet work independently they have a lot of help from each other. Relatively inexpensive workshops, a permanent meeting place and address and the possibility to collaborate with other groups, give the Gjuteriet as a whole, something much more. In the activities people of all ages and with different interests and experiences take part. Mainly the Gjuteriet can be said to stand on three legs, societies, theatre and music. Because the activities are run by many different groups (large or small), the Gjuteriet is less vulnerable if one of the societies should cease to function. Another advantage with a great number of societies is that new projects or activities can generate from contact with other groups (the Photographic Society is used for instance for documentary purposes and Film Society helps the music groups to make music videos etc).

At the same time the Gjuteriet is a meeting place for people of all ages and different interests ("a place of refuge") where musicians, actors, parents, building workers, old age pensioners etc have the possibility to meet and exchange ideas. One comes to the Gjuteriet if one is interested to take part in any of the established activities since in the first place it is a workhouse where certain public activities take place in a smaller scale. Principally activities take place more or less every day of the week both daytime and evenings.


The Gjuteriet is owned by the association Karlstad Lever. A non-profit association that works to preserve culture-historical valuable houses and environments, that Karlstad´s culture societies can obtain their need for premises provided for and strive towards a better living environmental culture in Karlstad. As a part of this work and as a solution after long discussions concerning the needs of premises for the societies, the house was made over from Karlstads´s Council to the association Karlstad Lever in 1985 for the sole purpose to let out the premises to the cultural societies.

The purchase sum is payed as a yearly site-leasehold payment and the Karlstad´s Council sets aside an economical grant which the Gjuteriet has to apply for yearly. The societies´rent is subsidized in a corresponding scale. The societies which are entitled to an local council allowance consequently forfeit the allowance if they move into the Gjuteriet. The activities that are not entitled to allowance (educational associations, small scaled businesses etc) pay full rent for their premises.

The administration for the Gjuteriet is today so organized that the board of the association is divided into two working committees each of them functioning relatively independent, one working committee is handling preserving matters and one working committee with representatives from activities in the Gjuteriet and which is looking after the administration of the house and the cafe. The practical work is managed by one full time manager, one full time caretaker and one half time cleaner. At the moment there are 2 full time employees in the cafe which is open 09 - 20.30. More often than not there is some trainee, pupils from shools or someone of that sort in the cafe.


Many societies, organizations or other groups regularly using the Gjuteriet for their activities, for example the following:

Föreningen Karlstad Lever (working with cultural-history and administers the estate)
Karlstads Bilkooperativ (vehicle-owner society for collective use of cars)
Karlstads Bokcafé (book shop and arranges a series of lectures in the Café Gjuteriet)
Karlstads Finska Förening (office, educational courses etc for Finnish people in Karlstad)
Miljöaktiva Studenter i K-d (office for local students interested in environment issues)
Naturskyddsföreningen (office for The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation)
Ordfront (movement committed to the defense of democracy and human rights, publishing books & magazine))

Karlstads Nya Fotoklubb (office and photo laboratory)
Karlstads Närradioförening (umbrella organization for community radio societies in Karlstad)
Karlstads Obrända Bibliotek (The Unburned Library - removed books from public library saved from beeing incinerated waste)
Kunskapsradion (The Knowledge Radio - broadcasting educational lectures)
Radio Solstá - Studio Ett (one of 3 community radio studios in Karlstad, broadcasting daily)
Värmlands Filmförbund (amateur film and video production)
Värmländsk Kultur (office, publication of cultural-magazine)

Educational associations and music
Cabaryorkestern (music rehearsal studio)
storerooms for the student´s choir)
Föreningen Ransätersstämman (arranger for Swedish folk music)
Musiksmedjan (The Music Foundry - music recording studio)
Ninja (interest group for young female musicians)
Nyeds Dragspelsklubb (accordian-player´s club)
SpeedBall Recording Studio (music recording studio)
Studiefrämjandet (administration and educational courses and also rents 9 rehearsal studios for around 30 music bands)
Kulturverkstan (preliminary music education for preschool children)
Värmlands Spelmansförbund (office, work for traditional Swedish folk music)

Folkteatern Järnet (home stage, rehearsal studios and storerooms etc for amateur theatre)
Föreningen NBV-teatern (rehearsal studios and storerooms etc for amateur theatre and dance)
Gjuteriets Teaterskola (rehearsal studios and storerooms etc for children´s drama school)

Workshops etc
Escape room (mechanical workshop)
Däcktjänst (car tyre sales)
Café Gjuteriet (cafe, lunch and catering and picture exhibitions for amateurs)
Franke Teknik (design of elektronics for industrial plants)



The Gjuteriet was born of necessity
The Gjuteriet has existed slightly more than 20 years and is of great value for Karlstad´s societies and cultural life. Having existed with an uncertain future in temporary basements or with no premises at all, many associations have achieved a good work base for their activities in the Gjuteriet. The association activities have been able to develop both in quality and quantity and have spread rings that have had effect even outside the Gjuteriet. The reason that the joint action project has survived and developed despite some difficulties during the years, depends mainly on that from the beginning there was a great need for premises for activities that already were established. New activities have naturally been created from the Gjuteriet, but then as a result that new needs have arisen and new contacts between different groups were made possible.

The energy and commitment to accomplish the project came from the people who were going to make use of the house. The Gjuteriet became possible thanks to the ability of many people that cooperated in relatively long democratic preparation process. The advantage with this is that the many different needs and wishes of what the Gjuteriet would be, could be adapted to a more realistic whole picture.

Another basic condition was (and is) that Karlstad Council (both politicians and civil servants) could be inspired to a vision of the Gjuteriet as a association house, assign the building to the association activities and given the project economic support and at the same time delegate to the tenants to manage the shaping of the project.


The Gjuteriet as a meeting place for all
Within the different activities which have their residence in the Gjuteriet people of all ages take part. Approx 1200 persons every week participate in regulary activities in Gjuteriet. The number of people who are passiv members in the different cultural societies, or in other ways have benefit by the fact that Gjuteriet exists, is not possible to tell. However, there is problaby more than 10 000 people in Karlstad that in some way take advantage of Gjuteriet. Even though as an example the music groups are mostly younger participants, one cannot see the Gjuteriet as a whole as a specific meeting place for just youngsters. This is also something that is in line with the original idea of a house that promotes contact between different ages and groups. The Gjuteriet is a meeting place where people primarily meet to practice different interests, being together is an extra bonus. It is presumably also right to say that youngsters that come to the Gjuteriet´s activities have the possibility to enjoy the company of older and more experienced people, to help carry out their ideas and interests. During the years this has shown for example that new societies and interest groups were created and developed with help, support and advice and many other practical means by the Gjuteriet. By these means the Gjuteriet functions as a sort of intelligence bank. In many cases the Gjuteriet has also functioned as a gateway to information channels that are needed by society life in Karlstad, as well as between different idealistic organizations as between interest groups and for example council authorities.

+ 46(0)54 - 10 00 00
Verkstadsgatan 1

+ 46(0)54 - 100 700
Opening hours:
Mon - Thus 9.00 - 20.30
Friday 9.00 - 15.30
Sat - Sun after agreement


Photo: P-O Strand

Old buildings reused with new content.

Photo: P-O Strand

The Foundery´s old buildings reused för cultural societies.

Photo: P-O Strand

The Gjuteriet - a working place for cultural societies.

Verkstadsgatan 1, 652 19 Karlstad • Tel: 054-10 00 00 • Tel caféet: 054-100 700 • E-post: