As the Executive Director of the Rialto Theatre, I made the extraordinarily hard decision to cancel a beloved performer’s concert hours before showtime. I am writing this letter to all who have called for more information about the cancellation of the Matisyahu concert on February 15, 2024, at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson.

As a member of the Jewish community myself, a female business leader, and a longstanding community partner in Tucson, I am deeply saddened and offended by the public’s accusations of antisemitism as the cause for the Matisyahu concert cancellation.

This would have been Matisyahu’s eighth performance at the Rialto Theatre since 2009. The Rialto was made aware that Matis’ team had security concerns as early as Monday ahead of his Meow Wolf show in Santa Fe. With security being a concern for the tour amid online threats of protests from his detractors, The Rialto opted to increase staff security for the concert and the Tucson Police Department was alerted. We released a statement saying that the show would go on as planned on Thursday morning via social media.

Staff members began to call out of work for the concert citing their own safety concerns. We simultaneously received a call from a local private security firm informing us that they had been contacted by Matisyahu’s people for additional security. They requested to bring firearms. The Rialto Theatre has a longstanding policy of prohibiting all firearms on our campus.

It was at that time that we re-evaluated the risk that this performance would have on Matisyahu, our staff, and our customers for this all-ages concert. Short staffed and with an amplified sense that the artist himself did not feel safe enough to perform at our venue, we decided that the temperature of the situation had changed drastically enough to warrant calling for the show to be canceled.

Matisyahu’s team was concerned enough to seek armed security out of concern for his family’s safety. I opted to do the same for my Rialto family. 

Our staff was paid for the hours they would have worked for the performance. Matisyahu was paid in full for his performance as well without hesitation, question, or argument on our part. There was no intention to distance or unalign ourselves with Matisyahu as a performer.

This was not done to hurt the artist who we have happily hosted for 13 previous years.

The tarnish to The Rialto’s Theatre’s 104-year outstanding reputation as a safe, inclusive, community-driven space for all cannot be overemphasized. This business is built on relationships with performers, agents, and community. To learn that my decision to de-escalate a perceived security risk to a performer, our staff, and our customers was met with vitriol by our own community is heartbreaking.

I see now that I should have been more forthcoming in The Rialto’s initial statement to the community and our ticket holders prior to the Matisyahu concert cancellation. This is a learning experience for us all. I came to understand that our customers and community need to hear the complete story. I hope that I provided the Tucson community and all of our partners around the country and the world with what they have called for.