Arts and cultural programs are some of the oldest and most robust in the sister cities network and continue to connect people from different backgrounds on a fundamental level. By experiencing and exploring the culture of an international community, citizens may gain insight into the history, values, and aesthetic sensibilities of their partners.

Today, cultural exchange provides the foundation for many sister city relationships. These exchanges take many different forms, with musical performances, art exhibits, peace parks and gardens, and international cultural festivals proving popular throughout the sister city network.

Click here for news on recent arts and culture activities from the network!

International Competition for Artists with Disabilities winning photograph by Rob White from Phoenix, ArizonaThe first of its kind in the sister city network, the Phoenix Sister Cities’ Disabilities Awareness Committee works to promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities in communities around the world. One way that they engage the disability community is through the International Competition for Artists with Disabilities. The Art Competition gives people with disabilities a chance to showcase their talents and express themselves, and the artwork submitted each year also shows the similarities and differences between the cultures of each city involved, as each artist interprets the annual theme. Click here to learn more!
The Sister Cities International Bowl logoOne aspect of culture that helps to transcend differences is sports. When there is a linguistic or cultural barrier, sports can often help people connect regardless of their differences. In 2014, two amateur football teams from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and their sister city Narashino, Japan went head to head for the inaugural Sister Cities International Bowl in Tuscaloosa. Players from Narashino experienced southern U.S. football culture while spending quality time with opposing teammates and sharing their love of football. Incorporating sports diplomacy into sister city programs has helped numerous organizations engage their international networks on a broader level. In addition to providing an exciting platform, sports programs provide an all-encompassing positive experience and a unique way for individuals and their sister cities to learn about different cultures. Click here to learn more!
In October 2014, Richmond, Virginia hosted a delegation of nine officials from sister city Ségou, Mali, including Governor Boubacar Thierno Cisse and Mayor Ousamane K. Simaga. Richmond City Council celebrated the five-year anniversary of their sister city relationship with Ségou, and recognized the delegation members for their service, leadership, and dedication to continuing to work on behalf of the two cities. Their stay involved attendance at the Richmond Folk Festival, a reciprocated gesture after Richmond commissioners enjoyed the Festival on the Niger in Ségou in previous years and a gift-giving ceremony between at a luncheon following a French-Speaking Africa forum. The sharing of musical cultures continues to be a cornerstone of the partnership.