Fuller Study Findings

In Fall 2016, the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association (TFAA) commissioned the Stephen S. Fuller Institute to conduct the attached study to better understand the effect of our unique organization on the City of Alexandria. The resulting Economic Impact Study confirms the Torpedo Factory Art Center is critical to Alexandria’s economy, and offers a broad perspective on what needs to happen in order to capitalize on the Art Center’s history and grow it’s success.

Facing increased competition from neighboring tourism industry attractions and the prospect of dwindling federal spending, the Art Center needs a management structure that is flexible, forward-looking, and, crucially, versed in what makes us unique.

The Torpedo Factory Art Center is an economic powerhouse; it is Alexandria’s strongest catalytic force in generating tourism year-round. The Fuller Study finds that $35.2 million in direct spending is generated annually from non-resident Torpedo Factory visitors, and the City benefits from $47 million in transactions associated with the total spending.

What is driving that traffic? A one-of-a-kind experience:

  • Working artists engaging with the public
  • High quality artwork with standards set by a blind jury process
  • Something new to see on every visit

The Art Center’s uniqueness lies in the ability of visitors to engage with artists during the creative process. With dozens of the world’s finest museums and galleries within a few miles, the 43-year legacy of the Torpedo Factory continues to succeed because of the dedication from an ever-changing group of artists and the one-of-a-kind immersive experience. This experience is found not only in our artist studios, but also in the Arts League classrooms, the Archeology Museum, and the special events and projects artists create with the public.

The Fuller Study illustrates how we can succeed in a rapidly changing economic environment. The artists (all small business owners) have the greatest motivation to manage this resource effectively: their economic success is intertwined with that of the Art Center. Allowing artists to be creative, flexible, and collaborative is essential to the Art Center’s continued success.

The City of Alexandria will always be a stakeholder in the Art Center, but without the constant constraint of cumbersome bureaucratic decision-making, the TFAA can more easily create partnerships with retail enterprises, neighboring arts organizations, corporate sponsors, and private giving sources. Artist governance of the Torpedo Factory Art Center will provide the City of Alexandria with more visitation, increased tax revenue, and expanded community programming without increasing City spending.  We encourage you to read our plan for governance at www.torpedofactoryartists.com/plan.

To read the full report, click here: The Impact of the Torpedo Factory Arts Center.

To watch a video of Dr. Fuller’s presentation, please click here.

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