Torpedo Factory Art Center in the golden dawn light

Scores of artist communities in converted industrial-type buildings have sprouted globally in the last 50 years; many modeled after Torpedo Factory Art Center. Resident Artists at the Art Center receive subsidized studio space in a City owned building ($16.88 per square foot per year) and are required to engage with the public. Best practices have evolved and adapted over time and the Art Center seeks to do the same.

One contemporary process includes regular re-jurying of Resident Artists, in an average of every 3–5 years. With the Art Center being founded in 1974, many artists have held studios for multiple decades without being reevaluated.

On December 14, 2021, Alexandria City Council approved and directed staff to implement the Action Plan for Vibrancy & Sustainability at the Torpedo Factory Art Center (Vibrancy Plan). The plan was based on a 2019 City-commissioned meta-analysis of 15 public and private reports. This included the 2016 KAPTIVATE report, commissioned by the Torpedo Factory Artist Association (TFAA), which called for a “Re-assessment of work and production in a jury system conducted by external expert evaluators” every few years (page 45).

The Vibrancy Plan, in Core Strategic Direction #1: Re-establish the Art Center Identity for a 21st Century Audience, Action item 2, calls to:

“Expand the artist studio program to better reflect contemporary best practices, diversity, and public interaction. Outcome a. Design and implement an impeccable, credible, artist selection process to determine studio leases. Grounded in best practices, selection is based on art quality, ability to work and interact with the public, working for greater good of Art Center/community, and diversity including media, place in career, and personal background.”

All artists at the Art Center will be re-juried every three years in an open public call for entry. Founding Artists (had studios in 1974) and their studio mates will not re-jury while the Founding Artist maintains their studio at the Art Center. The Founding Artists’ studios will receive year-to-year leases. After a Founding Artist leaves the Art Center, all remaining studio mates will be required to apply in the next available re-jury to receive a three-year lease.

The studios at the Art Center were separated into three (3) groups – A, B, or C – based on the jury date of the artist in the studio who was juried the longest in the past. However, if any single group is clustered in one area of the Art Center, that group may be divided to ensure no section or floor is unduly burdened by the jury process. In 2022, this was not an issue. Accepted applicants will be offered a three (3) year lease and be re-juried every three (3) years. Studios are divided into groups as follows:

  • Group A studios have no artists juried in 1974 and have an artist who was most recently juried between 1975 – 2003. Group A was re-juried this year.
  • Group B studios have no artists most recently juried between 1974 – 2003 and have an artist most recently juried between 2004 – 2017. Group B shall be re-juried in 2023.
  • Group C studios have no artists most recently juried between 1974 – 2017 and have an artist most recently juried between 2018 – 2021. Group C shall be re-juried in 2024.

The intention to jury/re-jury was announced in February 2021, with a broad statement on the process. The 2022 Open Call for Resident Artists at Torpedo Factory Art Center with application criteria was announced on February 14, 2022, the application went live on March 1, 2022, and applications were due April 19, 2022. Staff held three webinars with potential applicants, one exclusively for current Resident Artists (incumbents), on how to apply. New Resident Artist leases will begin in November 2022.