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Rialto Square Theater seeks some help from Joliet with revenue restricted by COVID-19

The Rialto Square Theater has rescheduled all but one last show booked for 2020 to next year.
The Rialto Square Theater has rescheduled all but one last show booked for 2020 to next year.

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The Rialto Square Theatre, dealing with COVID-19 conditions under which the show can’t go on and probably won’t until spring 2021, is seeking help from the city to pay for its audit.

The city of Joliet, making its own budget adjustments to deal with COVID-19, has not provided the Rialto with the $237,500 second installment of its annual contribution to the theater.

But Rialto officials are asking for $23,000 for the theater’s annual financial audit.

“As you might imagine, we’ve done everything we possibly can think of to preserve cash in an effort to keep the doors of the Rialto available to reopen, hopefully, in the spring,” Rialto board Chairman Robert Filotto said when presenting the request to the Joliet City Council Finance Committee on Sept. 15.

In an interview Friday, Filotto said the Rialto is not behind on bills, which are down with no shows at the theater, and is not in immediate danger of having to shut down.

“I would say we have an adequate cash flow until March of next spring,” he said.

Even if the theater can stage shows again then, Rialto officials are concerned how the market will continue to be affected by COVID-19.

The Rialto’s financial connection to the city makes it a component unit that needs to be audited for the city’s own financial audit to be completed.

The Rialto now has two sources of monthly revenue: about $25,000 in rent from the University of St. Francis, which runs its arts program in the office section of the Rialto building, and another $15,000 from Will County traffic court, which is being held at the Rialto until the new courthouse opens later this year.

Staff has been reduced to Executive Director Val Devine, who has taken a pay cut; a finance director now working part time; and one full-time building engineer.

At the Finance Committee meeting, Devine outlined what government grants for COVID-19 relief and donations the theater has received during the pandemic.

But performances at the Rialto are not feasible under social gathering restrictions, and it’s difficult to plan any events with no certainty as to how many people will be allowed into the theater in coming months, she said.

The 50 people that would be allowed in the theater now “is my orchestra pit,” Devine said. “It’s a drop in the bucket.”

The main business of the theater since March has been rescheduling 2020 shows booked before the pandemic.

The band Chicago is scheduled for Oct. 14.

“Chicago is the last one left, which I anticipate when they come up with a date, also will be pushed back to 2021,” Devine said.

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