Cultural Programs in American Spaces

Cultural diplomacy fosters people-to-people connections, increases understanding and builds mutual respect. Cultural programs can be based on visual arts, sports, film and performing arts, as well as cross-cultural discussions, presentations and round tables. American Spaces are ideal locations to engage with a wide range of audiences, especially emerging leaders, youth and traditionally underrepresented communities, including women, racial and ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. From culinary presentations to book clubs or discussions about American history, cultural programs build understanding and collaboration by sharing the rich and diverse traditions of the United States.

Resources for Cultural Programs

Americans in your Community: Embassy/consulate officers, eligible family members, Peace Corps Volunteers, students – particularly academic exchange participants – and other Americans in your area are great resources to provide insights into American culture. They can be invited to talk about the United States or demonstrate their artistic talents. Successful cultural programs can range from talking about student life in the United States to conducting workforce development workshops.

Film: Popular Hollywood films, independent films and documentaries covered by our Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC) agreement allow American Spaces to build programming that will reach out to and engage diverse communities from youth groups to emerging filmmakers to non-governmental organizations. Individual American Spaces can design their own film programs and ongoing series through an enhanced public performance license agreement with the MPLC, which now covers approximately 50,000 titles. The list of producers and distributors whose films fall under the MPLC agreement can be found here. For more information, ideas and how to determine if a film is included in the MPLC agreement, contact the film program office at MPLC@state.gov.

Webchats: Skype, interactive webcasts, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live and a variety of other social media platforms allow American Spaces to easily connect their audiences with people and events in the United States. Online event or speech viewing parties, interactive virtual discussions and even simply connecting with a local student studying in the United States or someone from the local community visiting or living in the U.S. are excellent ways to do simple but effective people-to-people programs. American Spaces can expand the reach of their cultural exchanges by joining Department of State sponsored interactive webchats and connecting participants to discussion groups. Even in the most challenging internet bandwidth environments, new technologies and assistance from IIP’s Interactive Office can make two-way video chats possible.

Cultural Exchanges: The U.S. government sponsors a wide variety of cultural exchanges each year, including dance, art, music and theater. Many embassies/consulates also create their own custom exchanges in the performing arts, film, visual arts and arts management. Embassy/consulate public affairs sections and American Spaces should share information about any such exchanges or visitors to the country that could provide opportunities to hold a cultural program at one or more American Spaces.