Rialto Appoints Interim Director

Rialto Appoints Interim Director

Jack Ericksen’s done it before, and it’s better now

The interim executive director at the Rialto Square Theatre is Jack Ericksen, who’s done it before under more trying circumstances.

Ericksen is director of sales and sponsorships at the Rialto, a job he will return to when a new executive director joins the Joliet theater.

The Rialto hired Ericksen for the same duties in January 2016.

Three months later he was made interim general manager, the title for the chief executive at the Rialto at that time.

“There was a lot of turmoil back then,” Ericksen said, reflecting back on a few of the issues facing the theater as people in the community speculated whether the Rialto would survive.

Ericksen was asked that question at the time by the Herald-News. He answered, “Without question.”

He proved to be correct, of course, but a lot has changed.

“The difference between now and then is like night and day,” Ericksen said Tuesday. “We’re in a better place now even with the pandemic and the theater being closed for 13 months.”

Ericksen this week took over for Val Devine, who gave notice last month that she would resign her position and leave the theater business to pursue other opportunities that would open more time for family and friends.

The transition is relatively smooth, with Devine planning to stop in at the Rialto once a week or be available as needed.

When Ericksen stepped in as interim general manager in 2016, then-General Manager Randy Green had been put on paid leave as the Rialto board negotiated a separation agreement. The Rialto had faced a series of problems that started with community backlash against new marquee, which set off a series of financial problems that included missed payments on payroll taxes.

The Rialto’s financial fortunes have changed since then, and just last month the theater celebrated a $5 million state grant that follows a $1.4 million federal grant awarded the Rialto in 2021.

One thing that has changed is that the theater now is managed by third-party venue operator, VenuWorks.

“I have the support of VenuWorks,” Ericksen said of what it’s like to be interim executive director now. “Back then (2016), there wasn’t much support.”

Candidates for the executive director position are being interviewed, and Ericksen said the expectation is that someone will be in place in June or July at the latest.

When the new executive director arrives, Ericksen said he will be happy to return to his regular position as director of sales and sponsorships.

“I absolutely love what I’m doing,” he said. “I have a lot of things in the works right now. I want to see them through to the end.”

Story from HERALD-NEWS By Bob Okon

APRIL 27, 2022