City Council, artists, compromise on Torpedo Factory board

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The city council reached a consensus on how to reorganize the Torpedo Factory Art Centers board, but not without some concessions and compromise.

City officials want more say in how the tourist destination is marketed to the public in hopes of enhancing its lure. After all, taxpayers subsidize the waterfront gem.

Artists worried new elements to the governing board would over-commercialize the center and undercut its artistic mission. After an outcry from artists and the public, officials agreed on a 13-member board, with five voting seats for Torpedo Factory members, four city-appointed community members and one each from the Art League, the citys Commission for the Arts, the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association and the city managers office.

Councilman Paul Smedberg was happy with the final outcome but not with the way it came about.

Im supporting this, but the misinformation that was out in the community that we wanted to commercialize the art center there was never any discussion of that, Smedberg said. The only discussion was to have the Torpedo Factory be a strong organization moving into the future.
Claims that council members were unsupportive of the artist community especially miffed Smedberg, who has been an adamant proponent of public art initiatives in the past.

The best results come with a little strain and tension, said Councilwoman Alicia Hughes. Looking at this board, the thing that reminds me of is a new person coming to play in the sandbox, just like a little girls first day at school.

The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce did not receive a voting seat on the board despite discussions indicating otherwise. The archaeology museum, which is housed at the art center, received a seat at the table but no vote.

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