Revive the Rialto is a new subcommittee of the Searcy Beautification Committee that is currently working to renovate the Rialto movie theater in downtown Searcy.
Mat Faulkner, a member of the committee and president of Think Advertising, said the first phase of renovations is the facade of the theater. This phase includes fixing the front lights, repainting the exterior and replacing broken glass tiles on the front of the building.
According to Faulkner, the desired date for completing the first phase of the renovations is before Searcy turns on the Christmas lights in early December of this year.
“It’s an icon for Searcy,” Faulkner said. “Since it’s such a landmark in the town, we want to be able to turn the lights on with the Christmas lights.”
After the front of the theater is renovated, the next step will be the interior.
Victor Weber, manager of the theater, said he hopes to fill the theater with new leather seats and paint the inside while maintaining the historical integrity of the building.
Faulkner said that the idea for the renovations has been in the works for a while.The Searcy Beautification Committee has been working on many buildings downtown.
“Although there has been planning for a long time, now there is actually some funding,” Faulkner said in reference to the tax that the city of Searcy has recently instated.
Due to the expense of the project, the tax money is not enough, Faulkner said. This is why the campaign Revive the Rialto began. Donations are going to be a large financial contributor to this project, according to Faulkner.
Despite the thousands of dollars required to complete the project, Faulkner said it will be worth it because downtown structures are vital to a growing community.
“(We want to) start at the heart of the town and get it beautiful and draw more business and visitors down there and then keep growing,” Faulkner said.
Reviving the Rialto will not only benefit the overall city image, but it will also bring back the fond memories of the theater for many people, Faulkner said. Many Searcy locals have memories of the Rialto from their childhood and many Harding students are in the process of forming similar memories.
Junior, David Taylor said he loves to see movies at the Rialto because it “has one of the coolest vibes ever.”
According to Taylor the atmosphere and the inexpensive ticket prices are the things that make him a regular viewer at the Rialto.
Taylor said he was excited when he found out about the changes coming to the theater, but said he is nervous the renovations will affect the ticket prices. Both Faulkner and Weber said ticket prices will remain the same. The Rialto is a city building and is therefore owned by the community, Faulkner said. He said the goal is to renovate the theater and give it back to the community.
Donations for Revive the Rialto can be given through their GoFundMe page or directly to Main Street Searcy. Currently, the project has raised more than $3,000 of the $60K goal.
Faulkner is “encouraging people to help pitch in because every little bit helps.”