JOLIET – The Joliet City Council on Tuesday agreed to give the Rialto Square Theatre a $300,000 advance but cautioned not to come back for more money this year.
The city contributes $600,000 to the Rialto each year but makes the payments quarterly. Rialto officials wanted an advance on the third and fourth quarter payments because of cash-flow problems that have led to the theater even having trouble paying its gas bill.
“We’re going to give you the $300,000 today,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said. “The caveat is that we don’t want you coming back and asking for any more money this calendar year.”
Rialto Executive Director Randy Green faced the council and answered questions about shows at the theater, its sources of revenue and even whether the theater would shut down.
“Are we in jeopardy of the Rialto closing?” Councilman Jim McFarland said.
Green said he could give no guarantee, but the Rialto was planning to be able to celebrate its 100th anniversary. That would come in 2026.
He said the financial crunch developed a year ago because of unusually weak sales for shows from July through October. The problem was aggravated when the Rialto had to give back $350,000 to the donor for a new marquee after the project was put on hold.
The two African-American council members, Bettye Gavin and Terry Morris, said they have heard from people questioning the diversity of performers brought to the Rialto. Gavin said after the meeting, the question was raised because of complaints that the Rialto did not stage acts that would appeal to African-American and Latino audiences.
“In your efforts to broaden your demographics and your programming, are there ways for the residents to weigh in?” Gavin asked.
Green said people could contact the Rialto through its website or call. He also said the theater does surveys to gauge the market.
Cadence and Ikea
Cadence Premier Logistics and Ikea got the final approvals they needed to build distribution centers and trucking operations in the Laraway Crossings Business Park.
Both projects have been controversial because of the amount of truck traffic already going onto Route 53, which runs alongside the business park.
City Council members also had raised questions, particularly about a truck service facility that is part of the Cadence plan.
But special use permits and plats were approved unanimously and without discussion on Tuesday.