The Impact of the Torpedo Factory Art Center on the City of Alexandria’s Economy

The Stephen S. Fuller Institute for Research on the Washington Region’s Economic Future and the Schar School of Policy and Government George Mason University recently completed a study titled The Impact of the Torpedo Factory Art Center on the City of Alexandria’s Economy.

Economist Stephen Fuller will be presenting the study, commissioned by the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association, at a press conference on Thursday, March 2 at 2:30 pm at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Gallery 311.

“This new research confirms what has been concluded in previous research; that is, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is the most significant single visitor attraction in Alexandria and that, in combination with other attractions in Old Town, together they generated a substantial level of visitor spending to the benefit of the City” says Fuller. Fuller also stated that “the attractive power of this destination is its unique experience: the ability for visitors to interact with artists and the creative process. Our research has shown that this experience makes it a compelling destination for all ages and income levels.”

Previous research studied for analysis of the Torpedo Factory’s current impact on the City included the 1994 Torpedo Factory Art Center Visitor Impact Study, The Visitor Market in Alexandria: Present and Prospective by the GMU Center for Regional Analysis in 2007, and the 2010 A Study of the Torpedo Factory Art Center by MAI, prepared for the City of Alexandria.

Fuller further said “The totality of economic impact leveraged by the Torpedo Factory is very significant and could be even greater by strengthening the City’s complementary attractions.  These complementary attractions, combined with the Torpedo Factory, generate local visitor spending and can be increased by marketing and managing the Torpedo Factory more aggressively to increase its regional market penetration. That’s the opportunity— but there is also the threat of a more competitive regional market.  A vibrant Torpedo Factory is essential to Old Town’s commercial success; there certainly is unrealized opportunity here to grow the City’s economy.”

The Torpedo Factory Art Center is located on the Alexandria Waterfront in a building owned by the City of Alexandria. After the recent failure and dissolution of a five-year non-profit management board (the TFACB) implemented in 2011 by the City of Alexandria, the City of Alexandria Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities Department’s Office of the Arts has taken over temporary management of the facility until a new entity for management is decided. The Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association submitted a plan for Art Center management in September 2016.