State and regional exhibitor organizations that meet certain defined criteria may use the NATO name, and may appoint representatives to sit on the NATO Board of Directors. NATO oversees a state and regional unit task force, where the leaders of the state units join with NATO executives to share information and coordinate policy. The task force meets three times each year – including a two-day issues summit. NATO assists our state and regional organizations with legislative tracking services and issue development, but the local organizations and volunteers manage policy issues in state capitals and municipal governments.
State and regional NATO units serve a vital role, in part because state governments routinely consider a plethora of issues with direct potential impact on exhibition. In recent years the range of challenges (or “negative legislation”) includes disability laws, admissions taxes, sales taxes, film rental taxes, minimum wages, overtime, child labor, soda syrup taxes and other food and beverage taxes, building codes, movie start time legislation, gift certificate regulations, ratings codification and enforcement proposals and obscenity laws to name a few. Less frequently, state governments consider “positive legislation” that can provide significant benefits to cinema operators. Most states, for example, have approved legislation over the past few years to outlaw the use of recording devices in theatres – a fundamental tool in the fight against movie theft (“piracy”).
Whether working for or against specific policy proposals, the NATO state and regional units serve the exhibition industry in a number of ways. Some associations employ local lobbyists in state capitals, while others have paid executive staff that helps to monitor legislation. All units, of course, benefit from the efforts of NATO member volunteers who watch out for relevant governmental policy proposals.
Many of the regionals also hold annual meetings/conventions to allow for local educational and networking opportunities. And many offer scholarship programs to member theater employees.
If you work in exhibition and are not familiar with your local NATO organization, we encourage you to reach out and get involved. The map above (click on the map to enlarge it) depicts the state and regional organizational structure.