NATO Creates New Indie Exhibitor Engagement Role Led By Government Relations Chief Todd Halstead


The National Association of Theatre Owners has expanded the purview of its government relations chief Todd Halstead to include a new position, director of Independent Exhibitor Engagement.

In the role, which is dedicated to indie theater owners, Halstead will collaborate with NATO’s Independent Theatre Owners Coalition (ITOC) “to help the group thrive.”

The indie theater marketplace was getting tougher before Covid and has been slow to recover after.

Halstead will continue to serve as NATO’s Director of Government Relations and Strategy Development, a role he took on in 2021.

“NATO is committed to the independent theatre owners across this country, and Todd is the perfect emissary for that commitment. He knows what is most important to independent exhibitors and he is very passionate about their success,” said NATO president and CEO Michael O’Leary. “His breadth of experience, long-term industry and government connections, and his dedication to independent cinemas make him the perfect person for this critical new role, and I’m excited to work with him as we lead NATO to a more inclusive future.”

Halstead previously spearheaded NATO’s government advocacy from 2007 to 2014, then held leadership roles as executive director of Theatre Owners of Mid-America) and its convention, CinéShow, from 2014 to 2021. He helped develop of the Independent Cinema Alliance (ICA), serving as its Executive Director from 2019 to 2021.

Halstead will work closely with the NATO leadership and the ITOC, which is chaired by Colleen Barstow of Omaha-based ACX Cinemas. “Both Colleen and Todd are dedicated to the independent cinema owners and together they will accomplish great things on behalf of this critical aspect of the American theatrical exhibition industry,” said O’Leary.

“Independent theaters are the economic and cultural heartbeat of communities throughout the country,” said Barstow. “NATO’s renewed commitment to ITOC promises to launch initiatives that will empower our members, and I look forward to working with Todd in his new strategic role.”   Halstead is based in Kansas City, MO, but works regularly in Washington, D.C. and is often on the road meeting with NATO members across the country.

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