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The US Capital of Culture was created by the American Cultural Tourism Association and designed to:

  • Highlight the richness and diversity of cultures in the United States

  • Celebrate the cultural features Americans share

  • Increase U.S. citizens' sense of belonging to a common cultural area

  • Foster the contribution of culture to the development of cities

In addition to this, experience has shown that the event is an excellent opportunity for:

  • Regenerate cities

  • Raise the international profile of cities;

  • Enhance the image of cities in the eyes of their own inhabitants

  • Breath new life into a city's culture

  • Boost tourism

How Does It Work?

Four years before the title-year the American Cultural Tourism Association publishes a call for applications, usually through the individual state and territory tourism boards. Cities interested in participating in the competition must submit a proposal for consideration.

The submitted applications are reviewed against a set of established criteria during a pre-selection phase by a panel of independent experts in the field of culture. The panel agrees on a short-list of finalist cities, which are then asked to submit more detailed applications.

The panel then reconvenes to assess the final applications and recommends one city for the title. The recommended city will then be formally designated as US Capital of Culture.

The Association appoints a US Capital of Culture Commissioner whose role is to ensure that the rules established at Association level are respected all along the way.


From Designation To 


U.S. Capitals of Culture are formally designated three years before the actual year. This long period of time is necessary for the planning and preparation of such a complex event. The panel, supported by the American Cultural Association membership, has a continuing role during these three years in supporting U.S. Capitals of Culture with advice and guidance, taking stock of their preparations.

Selection Committee

Our nomination committee will include representatives from: museums (art, science, history) music, live theater, food, wine & liquor, travel, media (film, print, digital), hospitality, architectural and design institutions, convention and tourism boards, and others.

Friends at Outdoor Event
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