Digital data on tangible and intangible cultural assets is an essential part of daily life, communication and experience. It has a lasting influence on the perception of cultural identity as well as on the interactions between research, the cultural economy and society. Throughout the last three decades, many cultural heritage institutions have contributed a wealth of digital representations of cultural assets (2D digital reproductions of paintings, sheet music, 3D digital models of sculptures, monuments, rooms, buildings), audio-visual data (music, film, stage performances), and procedural research data such as encoding and annotation formats. The long-term preservation and FAIR availability of research data from the cultural heritage domain is fundamentally important, not only for future academic success in the humanities but also for the cultural identity of individuals and society as a whole. Up to now, no coordinated effort for professional research data management on a national level exists in Germany. NFDI4Culture aims to fill this gap and create a user-centered, research-driven infrastructure that will cover a broad range of research domains from musicology, art history and architecture to performance, theatre, film, and media studies. The research landscape addressed by the consortium is characterized by strong institutional differentiation. Research units in the consortium's community of interest comprise university institutes, art colleges, academies, galleries, libraries, archives and museums. This diverse landscape is also characterized by an abundance of research objects, methodologies and a great potential for data-driven research. In a unique effort carried out by the applicant and co-applicants of this proposal and ten academic societies, this community is interconnected for the first time through a federated approach that is ideally suited to the needs of the participating researchers. To promote collaboration within the NFDI, to share knowledge and technology and to provide extensive support for its users have been the guiding principles of the consortium from the beginning and will be at the heart of all workflows and decision-making processes. Thanks to these principles, NFDI4Culture has gathered strong support ranging from individual researchers to high-level cultural heritage organizations such as the UNESCO, the International Council of Museums, the Open Knowledge Foundation and Wikimedia. On this basis, NFDI4Culture will take innovative measures that promote a cultural change towards a more reflective and sustainable handling of research data and at the same time boost qualification and professionalization in data-driven research in the domain of cultural heritage. This will create a long-lasting impact on science, cultural economy and society as a whole.