Arts West, a joint initiative with the support of the Victorian Government and private contributors, made its official 2014 launch on Wednesday.

The initiative was brokered by nine arts organisations in Melbourne’s western suburbs, which aim to encourage collaborative work in an effort to build sustainability.

Funding from the Victorian Government and considerable contributions from Gandel Philanthropy and the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation gave the initiative life.

Neos Kosmos spoke to Fotis Kapetopoulos, who assisted with the marketing and development of the project. He says that, above all, it is about empowering arts organisations.

“It was an idea developed by the Victorian Government about how you can bring together arts organisations to be a more collectively powerful force in terms of marketing and purchasing…. You know pulling the resources together, which is a very good idea I think.”

“There are nine separate organisations and they keep their separate identity, but together they’re able to defray costs. They can group purchasing, they’re able to do collective marketing campaigns, they would buy ads cheaper…. So you know coming together makes things cheaper, coming together makes things more effective.”

Kapetopoulos says the collective goes beyond promoting the arts.

“It’s more of an alliance to develop the arts in Melbourne’s west. It [Melbourne’s west] is growing phenomenally – its rate of growth is tremendous. About 38 per cent of Melbourne’s west is culturally diverse and has one of the fastest growing populations in Australia, it is economically shifting upwards, it’s got one of the highest proportions of middle ranking and higher management, its universities are improving. It’s growing.

“They [arts communities] want to take advantage of that growth by developing new audiences and part of the development of new audiences would be of course ethnic communities but it’s about strengthening the arts in the west through an alliance.”

The initiative was launched in the presence of Victorian Minister for the Arts, Heidi Victoria, who praised collaborative thinking in facing contemporary challenges.

“It is fantastic to see a group of organisations banding together to proactively seek out new opportunities, tackle common issues and build sustainability. While the Arts West organisations are all very different, they share an entrepreneurial spirit and a focus on presenting the best art and contributing to the community,” she says.

“The Victorian Coalition Government is very proud to have initiated and supported this project, which in a relatively short time has already seen some great outcomes, from the pooling of resources and expertise, to gaining significant philanthropic support. Arts West is a blueprint for cooperation and sustainability in the arts and is a model that could be applied right across our arts sector – and beyond.”