Protests delay Torpedo Factory reformation

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Protests delay Torpedo Factory reformation
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City officials indicated they would delay forming a governing board for the Torpedo Factory in the wake of more protests from the art center’s community.

Torpedo Factory supporters fear city council’s plans for the art center, which has been independently managed by artists since its beginnings in the 1970s, will hand control of the waterfront building over to City Hall and other entities. 

The council decided to establish a board overseeing management of the Torpedo Factory, a cultural hotspot for Alexandria, in June. A recent study identified the Torpedo Factory as a bonus to the city’s marketability.

Lack of public discussion has rankled the center’s supporters as much as the city’s restructuring plans. Critics of the new board had their first chance to voice opposition Saturday during a public hearing at City Hall.

We’re committed to welcoming growth, said Penelope Berringer, president of the Torpedo Factory Artists Association. We’re not in full agreement of proposed changes … The arts center is a unique, nationally recognized, opportunity to engage with living artists and the creative process in a collective space with our peers to create an artistic community greater than the sum of the parts.

Council members agreed to study the concerns put forth during Saturdays public hearing before making a final decision, which may put them beyond their targeted date of October 26. Councilwoman Del Pepper argued against rushing forward too quickly.

If it’s possible, good, but let’s see how things play out here, she said. I really am very pleased to see that we were able to have this public hearing. It does meet an outcry that was made throughout this process. It is unthinkable we would make major decisions like this without public hearings.

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