In 1999, organisers expanded their production activities to create the interdisciplinary and non-profit Imaginario Foundation to incorporate a "public interest perspective", focusing on the public debate, capacity building, and television and media policy initiatives. The aim is to promote and support the development of children's television in Colombia (and the Latin American region, through various partners) with a consistent connection to the education sector and continuous reflection and action on related policies and the legal framework.
The vision that inspired the formation of Citurna and Imaginario reflects a felt need to invest and innovate in education to trigger social change in Latin American countries. In addition, it is based on the conviction that high-quality television - when combined with other media and a communication perspective and when embedded in the educational system and allied to the public-private sector and civil society movements - is critical to processes of development. While driven by the belief that TV can be a very strong change agent in contemporary society, Citurna organisers also recognised that the production of a TV programme is only one component of this process; broadcasts need to be enhanced through the use of TV and video in the school system and at home, efficient distribution and information through other multimedia platforms (the internet, CD-ROMs, printed materials, the press, etc.), capacity strengthening of audiences, public oversight and public debate, and monitoring and evaluation.
Partnership and networking are key strategies underlying this initiative. Citurna and Imaginario have built a diverse base of partners - national and international - to develop their main areas of work. Partnerships range from institutional backing and support for fundraising, in-kind contribution of diverse nature, technical assistance, co-production agreements, academic support, and cash resourcing. Some collaborators over the years have included Television Trust for the Environment (TVE), Channel Four Learning, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the United Kingdom's Education Department, the United Nations, the Asociación de Television Educativa Iberoamericana (ATEI) in Spain, and the Media Peace Centre and the Worldwide Media Network, based in South Africa. The TV de Calidad network is a major regional initiative (this Spanish-language page on La Iniciativa de Comunicación website provides details). The aim is to galvanise these collaborations to foster attractive, quality television that promotes the development and rights of children and that keeps in mind the constant presence of child viewers of what, in most cases, is the only entertainment and recreational medium within reach.
Core activities include:
- Production of TV and support material; some examples of children's television being produced by Citurna and its regional partners include:
- Chinkana-rama: Adventure as Knowledge - a daily 2-hour educational slot for children aired in Colombia. Chinkana-rama is based on an "edutainment" strategy as a part of the new educational programming of the national public TV channel Señal Colombia - educativa y cultural. More than a TV programme, it is a tool designed to support the development of basic primary school competencies. Chinkana-rama incorporates the use of media, internet and print material as part of what is envisioned as a fun and easy way to understand and learn. (Click here for a Spanish-language summary of this project on La Iniciativa de Comunicación website; click here for more information, also in Spanish).
- Revelados: Valores en Línea - Citurna is co-producing with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in this Colombian edutainment programme for teenagers, which aims at reinforcing values and citizenship by showing positive experiences and initiatives of children and young adults in Colombia. The third series, which includes 21 sixty-minute episodes, is focused on the relationship between youth and the armed conflict and its prevention. (Click here for a Spanish-language summary of this project on La Iniciativa de Comunicación website).
- Regional production is being carried out in countries such as Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay; 2 examples from Brazil include Menino Maluquinho (for more information, click here) and Curta Criança (for more information, click here).
- Building capacity in Colombia through annual international conferences and debates about public interest and children's TV. For instance, Citurna/Imaginario has been programming Prix Jeunesse "Suitcases" since the year 2000 in their annual TV de Calidad Screening Conferences, at which more than 40 international experts have been guests and in which more than 1,200 delegates of the audiovisual sector in Colombia (legislators, programmers and producers, communication students and teachers, parents and educators, advertisers) have participated. (To learn more about this annual conference (in English), click here).
- Promotion of public policy debates and participation in regional partnerships (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, México, Uruguay) on children's television and media. To cite only one example, Compromiso por una Televisión de Calidad para la Infancia is an advocacy effort that represents all sectors of society that deal with children and media in Colombia. Signed at the Presidential Palace of Colombia and hosted by the First Lady in the context of the "TV de Calidad 2005" International TV Conference, this commitment promotes incentives for stronger national production of children's television, such as: training young professionals and new producers, increasing research and evaluation, strengthening social responsibility and commitment to children and youth, stimulating citizens' participation, intensifying surveillance of children's television (particularly by parents and educators), and improving legislation and regulatory frameworks.
- Dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge to strengthen the debate about social responsibility of the media and television, in part through La Iniciativa de Comunicación's website. This website includes a dedicated section focused on TV de Calidad; click here to access it.
Children, Youth, Education.
Organisers explain that, in the Latin American region, local and regional production, capacity building, regional networks and international partnerships need to be sustained. But the problem is that technical cooperation resources have been reduced drastically, with the exception of specific countries with difficult political and economic conditions such as Haiti, Honduras, or Bolivia. Colombia, for example, receives technical cooperation funding primarily focused on the war on drugs and terrorism, and internally, there is still inefficient implementation of public policies and government budgets, some corruption in the public sector, and a growing trend towards a commercial perspective in the media. Funding for media production and education is not easily available from state, government, or local foundations.
Citurna Productions was founded by 3 women: Doris Eder, ex-minister of Education of Colombia; Patricia Castaño, social worker specialising in social communication and television; and Adelaida Trujillo, anthropologist trained in documentary filmmaking in the UK (London International Film School and BBC TV).
Letter from Citurna to The Communication Initiative; and email from Adelaida Trujillo to The Communication Initiative on March 28 2006.