JOLIET – The Rialto Square Theatre board approved a contract with VenuWorks on Wednesday, the first of two steps needed for an $850,000 cash injection into the cash-strapped theater.
The five-year contract was needed to satisfy a condition set by the city of Joliet before it would issue $250,000 as a first installment in its annual funding for the theater.
Meanwhile, the Rialto Square Theatre Foundation, the fundraising arm of the theater, will be in court Friday to seek authority to make a $600,000 loan from its endowment to the theater.
The Rialto has a $650,000 backlog in bills, which has forced the theater to cut staff hours and reduce janitorial service.
Interim Executive Director Timothy Berry said one of his top priorities will be to improve cleaning services for tenants in office space owned by the Rialto.
Berry told the board that housekeeping service “has been short-staffed and short-supplied. We’re doing the best we can, but there are many incidents where we have fallen short.”
The janitorial company that cleaned the Rialto theater and offices stopped providing service in April 2016 because it was not getting paid, and is suing for payment.
The theater’s building operations manager, Mike Biedron, also quit in December, saying he and his wife had been doing the janitorial work since May because the Rialto would not hire anyone to do the job. Rialto staff continue to clean the Rialto, but Berry said more help is needed.
The Rialto Square Theatre board approved the contract with a 6-0 vote.
“I think it’s a good agreement,” board member Joe Carlasare said. “Ultimately, we’re counting on VenuWorks to deliver.”
VenuWorks has been managing the theater on short-term contracts since September. The city wanted a one-year contract with a management company in place before it provided $250,000.
Joliet will provide another $250,000 on July 1 if the Rialto has booked 30 shows by then.
Berry said he was confident the Rialto would hit the 30-show target.
“We are about a third of the way there,” Berry told the board. “Without letting the cat out of the bag, we probably are closer to 14 shows.”
Berry said he expects two more shows to be announced by Friday.
On Wednesday, the Rialto announced that Cirque D’Or, a group of acrobats and contortionists, will perform March 28, 29 and 30.
Tickets go on sale Friday for a May 11 performance by Olivia Newton-John, which was announced last week.
“I’ve heard nothing but positive things about Olivia Newton-John coming,” board Chairman Bob Filotto said.
Terms of the VenuWorks contract include:
• An option for either party to back out of the agreement after three years
• A $114,000 annual base management fee for VenuWorks that would increase each year to match increases in the Consumer Price Index
• Variable management fees that include 5 percent of food and beverage sales and 10 percent of revenues generated from advertising sales, sponsorships, pouring rights and naming rights.