• Megann Horstead

Rialto officials urge Joliet City Council to provide funding


Rialto Square Theatre officials made a plea to the Joliet City Council, asking it to commit funding to help support the theatre.

At a recent meeting of the Joliet City Council, officials were tasked with giving thought to a proposition.

The Rialto Square Theatre is seeking city funding as it moves into 2019.

Last year, the Joliet City Council allotted $500,000 to help support the theatre.

“I’m here to ask you to recommit to that effort,” said Jim Roolf, chairman of the Joliet City Center Partnership Board of Directors.

Rialto officials are doing their part to turn over monthly financials and quarterly recaps to the city.

“We are encouraged by the complimentary comments of those long-time and new patrons to the venue,” Rialto Square Theatre Executive Director Val Devine said. “We love to see the response of our guests as they enter the esplanade and rotunda for their first time as they marvel at the beauty of our wonderful theatre.”

The city will make its budget available to the public for inspection beginning Nov. 19.

A presentation to the Joliet City Council shows the Rialto’s fiscal year 2018 income experienced growth valued at 68 percent, in terms of budget versus actuals. In line with that is an approximate 49 percent increase in expenses.

Rialto officials are anticipating a loss of income moving into the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 attributable to finances regarding the Rialto Square Two building.

Roolf acknowledged it’s been a bumpy road for the theatre over the years.

“We compliment the city council for putting their foot down about 18 to 24 months ago, but I would also compliment the board of the Rialto, VenuWorks, Val Devine for the work that has been done at the Rialto since that foot was dropped, so to speak,” Roolf said. “I think it has been very positive for downtown and certainly for the entire region because the guests at the Rialto come from all over. It’s no question that it is and continues to be the jewel of Joliet.”

Roolf asked that members of the city council give the proposition some thought.

The Rialto Square Theatre continues to serve as one of several anchors in downtown Joliet.

The city adopted its downtown development plan in 2015 to help serve as a roadmap to revitalization.

“A lots been accomplished on that plan, and thank you for your efforts in that regard,” Roolf said. “A lot more needs to be done. We’ll be working on that at City Center Partnership, and part of that effort needs to be to continue to support and enhance the Rialto Square Theatre.”

Councilwoman Bettye Gavin heaped praise on the Rialto Square Theatre for doing its part to work with the city.

It remains unclear what, if any, funding the city may allot to support the theatre.

Members of the Joliet City Council must pass a 2019 budget by their Dec. 18 meeting.

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