On Monday, January 23, VenuWorks proposed a five-year contract to remain the management company at the Rialto Square Theatre. VenuWorks provides full-service venue management, food/beverage and programming solutions to arenas, theatres and convention centers throughout the United States. Some of its services include operations, programming, finance and administration and sales and marketing.
This proposal is great news for the cash-strapped theatre. In March of 2016, the Joliet City Council members helped the Rialto Square Theatre out of a financial jam when the Rialto had federal income tax withholds totaling more than $120,000. In addition, the theatre’s financial records also show the theater owes about $400,000 to vendors and other debtors and only has about $70,000 cash on hand.
A minimum one-year agreement with a theatre management company is a condition for the Rialto to get its first installment of city funding this year. The old Rialto board approved this agreement before it resigned as a group December 29, 2016. The agreement requires at least a one-year agreement to be in place before the theatre gets $250,000. This means that the theatre must line up 30 shows by June 30 to get another $250,000 in city funding for 2017. Therefore, VenuWorks is now operating on a three-month contract that runs through March because of the financial uncertainty of the Rialto.
So far, VenuWorks has only booked four shows for 2017, including two performances by comedian Ron White on February 17.
The VenuWorks five-year deal will be decided by the new Rialto board approval. The new board includes local attorney Thomas Osterberger. Osterberger also recently became the chairman of the board for the Will County Center for Economic Development. He is an attorney and he was a president of the Joliet Junior College Foundation Board. Osterberger seems qualified to help improve the old theatre.
The Rialto, opened in 1926, dates to the vaudeville era and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Rialto is used for wedding receptions, live performances and other functions, like USF art classes.