Commercial takeover of the Torpedo Factory?

Commercial takeover of the Torpedo Factory?

Representatives of the Torpedo Factory voiced frustration Saturday with what they see as a commercial takeover of the art center.

In June the Alexandria City Council resolved to establish a board to oversee the management of the art center, a major cultural hub for the city. Tourism and other commerce-oriented representatives would outnumber the artists on the board 2 to 1, according to the Marian Van Landingham, the Torpedo Factorys founder.

To our surprise we found the composition of this board was going to be heavily stacked against artists, Van Landingham told the mayor and city council at Saturdays public hearing.

Torpedo Factory members mostly artists have managed the center since its inception more than 30 years ago. But recently, the city brought in a consultant to study the center as a tourist attraction and possibly enhance the centers marketability. 

The city-subsidized art center provides $16.2 million in revenue annually and receives more than 400,000 visitors a year, the report stated.

This is not a wholesale takeover to turn the Torpedo Factory into a virtual Disneyland, Councilman Paul Smedberg said.

Councilwoman Del Pepper disagreed, saying the proposed lopsided board is in fact a takeover.

Van Landinghams biggest complaint backed by former mayor and State Sen. Patsy Ticer (D-30) was that no public hearing was held on the matter. The council agreed, resolving to schedule a hearing in October.