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Local News

Rialto Square Theatre projects bigger deficit in 2018

Rialto Square Theatre on Friday, March 30, 2018, in Joliet, Ill.
Rialto Square Theatre on Friday, March 30, 2018, in Joliet, Ill.

The Rialto Square Theatre budget for 2019 shows a growing deficit.

The bigger deficit is chiefly blamed on maintenance and repair costs for Two Rialto Square, the adjacent office building that is increasingly becoming a drag on Rialto operations.

But the budget also projects flat and declining event revenue in some areas while forecasting a big boost in ticket revenue from shows.

The projected 2019 deficit is $444,000; that compares with the 2018 year-end deficit of $416,000.

The Rialto operates on a fiscal year that starts July 1. The Rialto board last week approved the budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

Two of the biggest changes in the budget are a projected $90,000 decline in office rental income because of tenants moving out of the Two Rialto Square building, and a $72,000 increase in projected repair costs, mainly because of work needed at the same building.

On the plus side, the Rialto is expecting $45,000 more from ticket sales, an indication that the theater expects to stage more or better shows in 2019.

But food and beverage income at the theater is expected to stay relatively flat at $428,000.

Theater and rotunda rental income is projected to decline by about $13,000 despite a growing business in weddings, which are held in the rotunda.

“We are at 25 weddings this year, which will be an all-time high since 2013 when records were first being kept,” Rialto Executive Director Val Devine told the board Wednesday before the vote on the budget.

Board member Jane Condon questioned the revenue projections.

“Looking forward, I’m not feeling there’s a lot of growth in the next fiscal year on the operational side,” she said.

Devine said Friday that some of the flat or declining revenue numbers projected for 2019 reflect conservative budgeting.

“I think that the thought process has been to be a little more conservative because the budget is a work in progress,” she said.

Board member Joe Carlasare noted that the contract with VenuWorks, the company that manages the theater and has oversight of the budget, also reduces management fees if the Rialto does not meet revenue projections.

“They are incentivized to be conservative and hit budget numbers,” he said.

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