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Local News

Rialto not booking additional shows until financial situation cleared up

JOLIET – The Rialto Square Theatre has stopped booking shows as it tries to work through a severe financial shortfall.

The Rialto board's Finance Committee got a lengthy report Tuesday on the theater's financial condition and a history of the agency's money problems.

It also heard from Interim General Manager Jack Ericksen that the Rialto is not booking additional shows amid the current uncertainty.

"We're not booking anything new until we see where we're at," Ericksen told the committee. "What we have currently booked, we're going forward with that."

Ericksen told the committee that the Rialto has four shows booked for the fall compared to 23 shows at the theater in fall 2015.

The Rialto has turned to the city of Joliet for help in paying performers in two shows at the theater this week, starring Pauly Shore and Jeff Foxworthy. The city also has paid more than $120,000 in late payroll taxes owed by the Rialto. The money is coming out of the annual $600,000 allotment the city gives the theater.

Even with that help, the Rialto ended March with $470,000 in bills and $79,000 in cash available to pay them.

Finance Manager Dale Evans on Tuesday detailed problems past and present at the committee meeting.

At times, Evans went into a meticulous history of the theater's existence and its financial shortfalls since it was saved from demolition in the late 1970s and put under the control of the civic center authority that oversees it today.

"This condition really has been existing as long as I've been working here," Evans, who has been at the Rialto for nearly 35 years, told the committee.

However, when asked by City Manager Jim Hock whether the Rialto would be in a position to start paying money owed to vendors after the city has covered upcoming acts, Evans was noncommittal.

"Things are slim – very slim," he said.

Finance Committee Chairman David Thornton noted that Evans' history of Rialto finances showed little increase in income from 1994 to 2015.

"Our expenses doubled over that time, and our revenue stayed the same," Thornton said. "It does not work."

Revenue was just over $3.3 million in 1994. It has gone up to as much as $5 million in 2007 but was just under $3.4 million in 2015. Expenses went from $1.7 million in 1994 to nearly $4.1 million in 2015.

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