At one time or another many properties—especially smaller ones—have thought about aligning with other similarly positioned organizations as a way of increasing the assets and benefits they can offer to sponsors.

For many the concept remains just a seemingly good idea, in part because of the numerous considerations that go into such collaborations (see Sidebar).

But three film festivals in the northeast U.S. have decided to make a go of it. Looking to gain economies of scale, the Martha’s Vineyard Int’l Film Festival, the Rhode Island Int’l Film Festival and the Woods Hole Film Festival have teamed up to create the New England Film Festival Alliance.

The three properties created the umbrella organization in April as a platform to pique the interest of corporate partners looking to reach a similar demographic across Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, said Judy Laster, executive director of the Woods Hole festival, who spearheaded the initiative.

“We can offer more marketing power to sponsors by combining our sales efforts.”

The scheduling of the festivals worked in favor of a joint approach, with the WHFF kicking off in late July followed by the RIFF in August and the Martha’s Vineyard event in September.

“Sponsors can receive exposure in front of large number of arts patrons over a sustained period of time,” Laster said.

While the three events have collaborated on other projects previously, a slow-to-recover economy and challenging sales environment prompted the new joint sales venture, said George Marshall, executive director of the Rhode Island festival.

“While it is starting to pick up, the sponsorship environment has been dicey for the past few years and it’s not at the same level it used to be,” he said.

The alliance—which with only three months lead time had not been able to secure a deal prior to the July 31 start of the WHFF—has developed packages based on available assets from each festival. Inventory includes on-site exposure, Web site ID and other benefits.

Customization and flexibility are key, said Laster, noting that the alliance will craft partnerships based on the prospects’ marketing needs.

The sales initiative is spearheaded by Michelle Fabiano, the alliance’s sponsorship coordinator, who also serves as director of sponsorship and advertising for the WHFF.

The alliance plans to evenly split sponsor fees with each festival.

“We need to treat each other with equality and respect,” said Marshall, noting that although the Providence-centered Rhode Island festival takes place in the largest market of the three and attracts a larger audience, “it doesn’t mean the other festivals don’t have the same value.”

In addition to seeking sponsors, the three festivals also will share best practices concerning operational challenges and the use of new technology, Laster said, noting RIFF recently developed a smart-phone app that allows users to view schedules, venues and additional information about the films and other happenings.

The alliance also has plans to add additional film fests from the region, said Marshall, who is speaking with a festival located in New Hampshire.