Visitor Experience

Is there an entry fee?

No. The Torpedo Factory Art Center is open daily to the public.

Where should I start touring the building?

The Art Center is home to the nation’s largest community of working artists’ studios under one roof. With more than 82 studios and 150 artists, it’s easy to wonder where to start. The largest number of studios are concentrated on the 3rd floor. It’s recommended that first-time visitors start at the top and work back down to the 1st floor. An elevator is near the waterfront entrance.

How do I find a specific artist?

If you know the name of the artist, there are lists available on the website for review in advance of a visit. Printed maps with regularly updated artist listings are available in the Grand Hall near the Union Street entrance and third floor landing.

If you aren’t sure about an artist’s name, but you are looking for a specific type of artist, like a jeweler or photographer, both the website and the printed lists provide easy access information about artists’ media.

Some artists may not be listed because they do not have a studio in the building, for example artists on exhibit at The Art League gallery or Target Gallery are not expressly listed.

The artist I came to see is not here. How do I contact him/her?

Each artist is a unique business. Artists publish their public contact information via their individual profiles on the Art Center’s website at torpedofactory.org/artist-list.

How do I find an artist who is no longer at the Torpedo Factory Art Center?

In its 45-year history, many artists have come and gone. Send an email to torpedofactory@alexandriava.gov and Art Center staff will do some research to make connections where possible.

Where can I grab a bite to eat?

The Art Center’s café is operated by Bread & Water Company. They offer a selection of sandwiches, salads, and pastries to enjoy during a visit.

Do you validate parking?

No. The Art Center is not affiliated with any of the nearby parking lots.

Why are there closed doors?

All artists at the Art Center make their own hours. The building is open 10 am to 6 pm seven days a week, which totals 56 hours. The majority of visitors come later in the week and on weekends, so many artists prioritize those hours for their availability.

Individual lease-holding artists are required to maintain an average of 28 hours per week in their studio for making art or interacting with the public, two artists are required to maintain an average of 36 hours, and three artists maintain 40 hours. If you are visiting the Art Center to see a specific artist, it’s always best to confirm availability first. Many artists also accept appointments upon request.

Do you offer classes or camps?

The classrooms at the Art Center are part of The Art League School. The Art League is an independent nonprofit tenant organization based at the Art Center. Visit theartleague.org/school for information about the current class and camp schedules and enrollment information.

Why are there some days when you close early?

The Art Center is available for private rentals. This income helps support public programs, exhibitions, and rent subsidies at the Art Center. Early closing is sometimes required to allow time for the building to be cleaned and prepared for the after-hours event. Find a complete list of upcoming early closures online via torpedofactory.org/todays-hours.


Art and Commerce

How do I commission an artwork?

A number of artists at the Art Center accept commissions. Some openly advertise this service, though many do not. If there is a particular artist you have in mind, it never hurts to ask. If you do not have an artist in mind, spend some time walking through the halls and exploring studios and talking with artists about their work, processes, and inspirations.

How do I show my work at the Torpedo Factory Art Center?

All current opportunities to show work through the Art Center are posted online at torpedofactory.org/artopps. Find opportunities to show in Target Gallery, New Project Studio, Post-Grad Residency, Site 2, Art in Common Spaces, and more. The webpage also has a sign-up form to receive information about future calls via email.

Artwork on exhibit at the Art Center is selected by independent jurors, not staff.

Additionally, The Art League, an independent nonprofit tenant of the Art Center, has opportunities for member artists. Visit the gallery (Studio 21) or theartleague.org to learn more.

Will an artist repair my work?

Maybe, but likely not. If the item was purchased from an Art Center artist, contact that artist to inquire about repair services. Depending on the nature of the repair, some artists may be able to perform minor fixes. For major repairs, it is always best to find a professional art conservator.

Can someone help me valuate my artwork for insurance or sale?

No. The Art Center does not have appraisal services. There are searchable databases available through several professional organizations. It’s best practice to find an appraiser with an expertise in the type of artwork you are inquiring about.

American Society of Appraisers
11107 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 310
Reston, VA 20190
(703) 478-2228 or 1-800-ASA-VALU
www.appraisers.org

Appraisers Association of America
212 West 35th Street, 11th Floor South
New York, NY 10001
(212) 889-5404
www.appraisersassoc.org

International Society of Appraisers
303 West Madison Street, Suite 2650
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 981-6778
www.isa-appraisers.org

I have art from an artist who formerly had a studio at the Art Center. Are you interested in purchasing it?

The Torpedo Factory Art Center is not a collecting institution and does not purchase artwork. If the artist was a member of The Art League, they may be interested in learning more about the work of art. If the artist had other gallery representation, the next avenue would be to reach out to their gallery about reselling. Otherwise, a reputable auction house may be able to find a buyer.


Operations

How much is rent for a studio?

Rent is subsidized to $15 per square foot per year. This is inclusive of utilities, common area maintenance, staffing, etc. It increases by 3% each year.

How do artists get to rent a space at the Art Center?

All artists are selected through a jury process.

There are a handful of short-term residency spaces throughout the building—most visible being the Post-Grad Studio and the New Project Studio—which provide opportunities for emerging artists and under-represented voices. Information about applying for these opportunities can be found via torpedofactory.org/artopps.

Since the late 1970s, the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association (TFAA), an independent membership organization, selected artists via a closed-jury process. Currently, artists selected through this process may lease or sublease a studio. Studio-leasing artists are not required to maintain an active membership in the TFAA as a requirement of their lease or sublease. Jurying for the TFAA normally takes place early in the calendar year.

There are also four art galleries and two workshops in the Art Center that are managed by independent membership organizations. Each group decides the terms of their own membership, provided they do not conflict with the terms of the Art Center tenant leases and operating rules and procedures. For information about joining a gallery or workshop, please contact these organizations directly. Information can be found via torpedofactory.org/partners.

Who owns the Building?

Residents of the City of Alexandria own the building. In 1969, the City bought the building from the Department of the Navy.

Who manages the Torpedo Factory Art Center?

Since 2016, the Art Center has been managed by the City of Alexandria’s Office of the Arts a division of the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities.

Previously, the building was managed by the nonprofit Torpedo Factory Art Center Board (TFACB).  The leadership for the TFACB was comprised of community members and civic leaders with the majority of the Board of Directors comprised of Art Center artists.

In that structure, artists received 12-month subleases that passed through two intermediary organizations, TFACB and the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association (TFAA). On October 1, 2016, the City assumed management of the Art Center. All artists received 36-month leases directly from the City with no intermediaries. They all expire on September 30, 2019. Any artists who joined a lease after October 2016 continue to sign leases with this same expiration date.

Historically, the Art Center was founded in 1974 by Marian Van Landingham (Studio 321), who was president of The Art League at the time. She operated as director of the Art Center, as well as staff of the 1974 Alexandria Bicentennial Commission with the City of Alexandria General Services, before continuing to work with Alexandria’s Office of Historic Alexandria.

In the early 70s, The Art League oversaw the formation of the volunteer-run Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association to manage oversight of the building and the artist leases. They ceded control to the TFACB and its full-time staff in 2011.

What happened to the non-profit organization?

In August 2016, the Torpedo Factory Art Center Board (TFACB) non-profit voted to dissolve the organization after the lease expired on September 30, 2016. They were fully dissolved in early 2017.  The City of Alexandria offered new positions to all the TFACB staff, and most chose to stay on in their current roles. Since the City of Alexandria assumed management in 2016, no new on site staff positions were added.

Do city taxes pay for the Art Center staff, janitorial services, exhibitions, or programs?

No. Since 1974 when the first group of artists presented their individual checks thumb-tacked on a bulletin board to City Council, the Art Center has been considered a special revenue source and is therefore completely self-funded.

Do City taxes help pay for capital upkeep?

Yes, the City currently provides capital upkeep of the building and has for the majority of the building’s history as an Art Center. During the period between 2011 and 2016 when building management was contracted out to the Torpedo Factor Art Center Board (TFACB), the City did not provide capital improvements, as this was under the purview of the nonprofit.

What is the space breakdown of the building?

The building is 76,000 square feet. Not including common areas:

Artist studios occupy the majority of space in the building (70%). The Art League is the single largest tenant with 12% dedicated to administrative offices, classrooms, art supply store, and gallery. The Alexandria Archeology Museum (7%) comes in third. The four independent art galleries take up 4% of the space with another 4% is also used for Art Center programing, including the Gift Shop, Target Gallery, a community meeting room, the New Project Studio and Post Grad Studio. The Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association utilizes 2% of the space, including Gallery 311 and TFAA office space. Staff offices, program storage, and a pantry take up 1% of the space.

How do I get a job here?

The Art Center has a small staff with six full-time staff members, two part-time staff, and a handful of season staff, primarily supporting event rentals. Art Center opportunities, including internships, are posted at torpedofactory.org/jobs. All applications will need to pass through the City of Alexandria’s hiring process.

Tenant organizations also have staff in the building. Many artists have studio assistants to help manage their spaces, too.


Private Events

Can I rent the Art Center for private use?

Yes. The Art Center’s modern-industrial and versatile space lends itself to an array of special events, from weddings, corporate events, reunions, proms, bar/bat mitzvahs, live performances, trade expos, and more. See examples of real weddings and events by following @torpedofactory on Pinterest. Information about rentals can be found at torpedofactory.org/rent.

What amenities are offered?

The Art Center is a wonderful venue to reflect and showcase creativity and individuality. In addition to the inspirational backdrop, rentals offer private after-hours access to the building with private security. The versatile industrial space can accommodate up to 1,000 standing guests or as few as 220 seated guests in the main hall. There are custom-suited lighting and furniture options available. There is also a non-exclusive catering list and the ability to provide your own alcohol. Information about rentals can be found at torpedofactory.org/rent.

What are your rates?

Rates are competitively priced and vary based on the day of the week and month of the year. Find the current rates on torpedofactory.org/rent.

I will soon visit the Art Center for an event. Where will that take place?

Every event is different. The majority of private events take place in the Grand Hall, though some do have smaller reception spaces on the 2nd or 3rd floors, as well as in the Riverview Room (Studio 208), which accommodates up to 25 people.


General Tourism information

Where is the Water Taxi and/or the King Street Trolley?

The Water Taxi is located on the Alexandria Marina. Exit through the doors facing the waterfront. Walk along the waterline heading left and the Water Taxi is docked behind Chart House restaurant.

The King Street Trolley starts and ends at King and Union Streets, though the stops may change during periods of high water.

What are the most popular tourist attractions in the City?

A Visit Alexandria’s 2016 ROI report found that strolling King Street in Old Town was the top tourist activity in Alexandria, at 83.9%. Dining in restaurants was a close second at 82.4%, followed by visiting the Waterfront (70.2%), visiting historic sites (53.9%) and shopping (50%). The Torpedo Factory Art Center was listed sixth at 39%.

Why do people come to Alexandria?

A Visit Alexandria’s 2016 ROI report found most people visit Alexandria because its “Walkable and easy to get around” (67.9%). Historic significance was listed as 53.6%, restaurants and the food scene was listed at 49.7%, the Waterfront was listed at 44.6%, Museums and historic sites were listed at 31.8%, and Art galleries/studios were listed at 19.9%.

Where is the Visitor Center?

The brochure holders near the waterfront entrance contain some modest information about the other things to see and do in Alexandria. The Visitor Center at Ramsey House can assist with more extensive information about local attractions, admission and transportation ticket sales, and other services. Find it at 221 King Street, directly across the street from Market Square and City Hall. Email ask@visitalexva.com for more information.