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Local News

Rialto Square Theatre plans special meeting for VenuWorks contract

JOLIET – The Rialto Square Theatre board expects to hold a special meeting in the next two weeks to consider VenuWork’s proposal for a five-year management contract.

“Much sooner rather than later,” board Chairman Robert Filotto said Friday when asked when he would like to see an agreement negotiated.

The cash-strapped Rialto needs to have a one-year agreement with a management company in place before it receives $250,000 – the first half of the city’s $500,000 annual funding for the theater. VenuWorks is now operating on a three-month contract.

Filotto plans to meet this week with VenuWorks to begin discussing the contract proposal. He said a special meeting of the board would likely be held early the week of Feb. 5-11 but has not been scheduled.

The five-tear term of the proposal is one item likely to be discussed, Filotto said.

“Do I have a sense of whether we’ll reach an agreement? I do believe we will, but everything’s negotiable,” he said.

The new Rialto board at its first meeting last week delayed a vote on the VenuWorks proposal, saying it needed time to review it.

Filotto was collecting fellow board members’ questions and comments about the proposal through the weekend.

The VenuWorks proposal sets a base management fee of $114,000 a year, while the management company would take on the task of ensuring that the theater meets budget.

The fee would be used to offset budget overruns, meaning the Rialto could pay less if the company underperforms.

The proposal does allow for budget deficits, and it also provides for mutually agreed budget revisions during the year. But if the deficit exceeds what is in the budget, the overrun comes out of the management fee.

“That’s a typical clause in all of our contracts,” VenuWorks Chief Operating Officer John Siehl said. “We negotiate a budget, and that’s what we head for. That’s what we live by.”

Siehl said the proposed contract is to a large extent a boilerplate agreement used at many of the venues the company manages, although some items are unique.

VenuWorks would have control of all operations of the Rialto and be responsible for expenses. The company would make its money from the management fee plus a variable management fee derived from a percentage of certain revenues, including food and beverage sales, sponsorships and naming rights.

Venuworks also would be the employer of Rialto staff. The 25-page proposal addresses operations, insurance, capital investments and other aspects of managing the theater.

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