After years of speculation that the two groups would form an alliance or even merge, Outfest — the LA-based nonprofit group that hosts the annual LGBT film festival — and its New York counterpart NewFest have formed a partnership with the aim to merge the organizations into one national arts entity. Under the agreement, Outfest, which turns 30 this year, will program this year’s edition of NewFest, which is set for July 27-30 in NYC. (Outfest 2012 is scheduled for July 12-22.) NewFest has struggled in recent years to host its annual event, which last year screened about 50 features. The festival had difficulty with venues in Manhattan, though it partnered last year with the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater for some of its higher-profile screenings. The future of NewFest was also in question after its executive director Lesli Klainberg and head programmer Bryce Renninger stepped back following last year’s edition.