MARTA JUNCO PADILLA: “The strength of the project is that our groups have been working in participatory audiovisual through community revitalization for many years.”


This month we interview Marta Junco Padilla, who undertakes education and communication tasks in Teleduca, Educación y Comunicación, one of the organizations belonging to the driving force behind La Veïnal, a participatory and community communication television project. Marta does a bit of everything: project coordination, budgets, community revitalization, workshops, etc. We talk with her about La Veïnal.

How did the idea of creating this participatory and community television come about?

Many years ago, in Barcelona, different participatory audiovisual groups wanted to promote this idea of the community television concept. Many people come from La Mosca, which is a self-managed television channel that has already been around for 20 years. In 2017, one of the organizations, Quepo, called upon different institutions from the participatory audiovisual sector and proposed trying to obtain resources to set up a community television channel in the city. That’s how the groups started to think about what it should be like and to look for resources, above all, to be able to develop the project of what the channel should represent. We found the resources in the Cultura Viva programme of the ICUB. First we received the support of the Barcelona City Hall which allowed us to conduct market research in the city with local residents and organizations to see whether they thought it made sense to have a community television channel and what they would need or what they understood that it should be. Based on that research, we worked for two years, always in collaboration with the local organizations, not just us. And we created a project of what we wanted La Veïnal to be like.

From there, the idea was to be able to support groups of residents and organizations in the neighbourhoods so that they could create their own audiovisual contents. Meanwhile, we gradually obtained resources and opened various local groups. While we were looking at this, COVID and lockdown arrived (laughs). So we hurried everything up a little and presented La Veïnal publicly in a way that isn’t what we intended, with different goals. We considered that if there was a time when we could revitalize the community and put people in contact through audiovisual it was during lockdown. We launched a programme which was La Veïnal from home. And with this we realized that, apart from our idea of supporting local groups to create their own contents and for residents to make local television programmes, there was already a great deal of audiovisual production created in the city which didn’t have visibility.

Now we have this blend of a platform which increases the visibility of the content that is created in the city outside the logic of the conventional media and at the same time we support these local groups to create their own productions.


How does a community television channel like yours work?

It’s not easy (laughs). We’re trying to put into practice a form of governance that’s called Holocracy, and we’re still learning as well. Halfway between a system based on assemblies and a hierarchical one. Through this system we have a core group, which consists of the groups which promoted the project, and other participatory audiovisual groups are also joining now. Starting from this core group we’ve created different thematic work holons. The biggest holon is that of the community, which is where we undertake all the community and participatory part with the neighbourhoods and with the residents. Then there is the one for strategy, which gradually designs the project strategy, and another for communication. The idea is that there should be one for innovation, but we haven’t set it up yet. With this basis, representatives from each holon attend a coordination meeting that we hold once a fortnight and we have plenary sessions once a month, which everyone attends. That’s where we decide on the more strategic aspects of the cross-cutting project. That’s how we’re organizing ourselves. The strength of the project is that our groups have been working in participatory audiovisual through community revitalization for many years. We distribute the work. Normally two groups work together in each area with the background and experience of each group.


La Veïnal consists of several associations. What does each one contribute?

Right from the beginning the core group was Teleduca, Càmeres i acció, Fora de quadre, Quepo and Telenoika, apart from La Mosca and El Parlante, which were there at the beginning. Until last year there was Teleduca, Càmeres i acció, Fora de quadre, Quepo and Telenoika. And this year, as the project is growing and we needed more help, we’ve carried out a process to include new groups in the core group. These include Colectic, which has been working for many years in the Raval, which is one of the new areas where we’re forming a group; Bit Lab, which is working more on the technological innovation side; Luciérnagas Arte en Acción, which is a group of women who do participatory photography and social intervention; and Miru, which works with young migrants through participatory audiovisual. Another group which has partly entered is Las Pibas Recs, which has an audiovisual group of women. We’re expanding this core group because the project is growing and more actions are arising which we need to cover with more people. And the logic of the community project is also that there was a core group which promoted it, but the idea has always been to add more people and to be able to gradually grow.
Who can help create the contents of La Veïnal TV? Can anyone take part, even if they’re not audiovisual professionals?
The thing is that with our audiovisual experience we offer hands-on training so that anyone can make their own television programme. At the moment the two most active local groups are El Carmel and Sant Andreu, the former as a neighbourhood and Sant Andreu as a district. Both groups have a mixture of residents and professionals from the organizations. We mix the two profiles: residents, some linked to associations and others not, and then technical profiles from different organizations in the neighbourhood, which have also contributed a great deal and in the end they help us to be able to make the programmes and the content based on the local situation.


What advantages do you think that this type of community television has?

On the one hand, there’s all the part that involves community health and revitalization of local areas, which in both El Carmel and Sant Andreu has brought together very diverse people who otherwise wouldn’t have been in contact. Not only have they come into contact, but also they’ve come together to think about the issues which concern them. To make the television programmes, first they had to reflect on what they want to talk about and what they want to make visible. Based on this, they carried out participatory processes in which they discussed and were able to talk about the issues which concern them. In Sant Andreu, for example, the three magazine programmes that they created were precisely about housing, food and community culture. On the one hand, it’s a tool for social cohesion in the local areas and, on the other hand, it enables them to develop a critical vision and to make it visible. I don’t like the phrase “to give them a voice” because they already have one, but in the end we give them tools so that they can use audiovisual to express their concerns, and not only what worries them but also the things that are fun for them. And, on the other hand, we’re raising awareness, outside economic and political interests, of situations in the city which other conventional media don’t highlight, or not in the same way.


What are the main difficulties that you encounter?

The main one, as always with all these projects, is financial. We give a lot of importance to the process. This means many hours of support, management and coordination between so many organizations. Horizontal coordination is always a challenge. And, basically, the main challenge that we have is to be able to obtain more resources to develop the local projects that we’re being asked to do. Because, in the end, we’ve already reached a point at which the initiatives entailing x projects, x television programmes or working on x topics come from the people. For example, there’s now a holon which isn’t linked to a local area, which is the feminist holon. And coordinating all this, apart from the hours of implementation, involves a whole lot of resources which is what we lack the most. The idea that we’ve always had is that the project should have a public-community logic. That is to say that there may be mostly public support, although the management is on a community level and independent of whether or not the administration supports the project. Now we have a mix, in which we have the agreement with the ICUB, in principle, which is still guaranteed, we’ve applied for various subsidies and we also have different commissions that we’ve budgeted for. Now, at the same time we’ve done a sort of permanent crowdfunding with different ways of becoming a member of La Veïnal. First, for local organizations, which have different benefits depending on the membership fees that they want to pay and then we’re also already developing what we would do with the residents who want to support the project.


You just premiered the documentary series Rumba Zivindorri, which explains the community link between gypsy culture and the Catalan rumba in different emblematic neighbourhoods of Barcelona. How did this project arise? What does it consist of?

This was a sort of parallel project. Because different projects come out of the local projects that we were talking about. We also have another one with the Favb (Federation of Barcelona Residents’ Associations). On this occasion, we were contacted by Carabutsí, a gypsy association in Barcelona, with the idea of producing a series on Catalan rumba in the city. As far as resources are concerned, for the moment we’ve been able to make a pilot of the series. In it we carried out this documentary process and the script was written in a participatory manner with the people from the association. And, in this case, the recording wasn’t at all participatory; rather, it was done by a technical team from La Veïnal. The process took two years and now we’ve managed to bring it to fruition. The idea is to enhance the visibility of the situation of the Catalan rumba and how it is socially and culturally embedded in the city; not just the rumba itself, but also what it means on a community and social level and everything around the world of the rumba.


You’ve premiered the first episode. Can it already be seen on the channels of La Veïnal?

We did the public presentation and it will soon be uploaded onto the website. The first chapter has been produced and the idea is to look for resources to produce the rest.


Do you have different channels? What channels exist and what will we find on them?

There are two alternatives on the platform. On the one hand, the content can be classified by subjects across all the channels. And, on the other hand, there are the channels that are in operation. We have the local holons: the Sant Andreu channel, the El Carmel channel and the Poble Sec channel, which is another local area where we’ve been active for three years. There’s the channel of the Favb, the Federation of Barcelona Residents’ Associations, with which we’ve been undertaking various processes for three years in which the residents’ associations themselves communicate through audiovisual. And the Acció Cultura Viva channel, which is one of the new channels which arose through a more alternative proposal of La Mercè with musicians who organize themselves to do this part of the festival. This group will then manage a music channel. And the feminist channel. At the moment we have these channels, which doesn’t mean that others won’t arise in relation to the themes of aid, social struggles, and many other things which already cut across all the channels. The active groups have a channel and they decide what they want to put on this channel, not us.


In your experience, what is the most rewarding part of the project?

Working with people. In Teleduca we revitalize the Sant Andreu channel with the colleagues from Càmeres i acció and for me it’s been a very beautiful process in which people of different ages and diversities have been put in contact to create things together. Emotional and social links have been created which, for me, is what enriches me the most. For example, there are elderly people. There is one woman, Berta, who’s been admitted to hospital because she’s ill. She’s someone who starts crying when she explains that participating in this group has given her a new life. She’s 89 years old and never imagined that she was going to present a television programme, that she could record or do many other things that she’s doing. In the end, the most rewarding aspect of all is to see how people are empowered like this.


What are your future challenges and projects?

The main project is to continue with our local area growth. The next challenge that we have under way is El Raval. And the idea is to be able to have local growth in more neighbourhoods, but also in a cross-cutting manner in subjects such as feminism, which involve all the local areas. Another holon that has been active and that we now want to reactivate is that of labour rights. Groups of non-majority trade unions have made magazine programmes in which they have explained the different labour rights mobilizations that took place last year. The idea is to be able to continue activating these groups. And, on the other hand, we also want to expand the strategic participation of people who already take part in the holons. We’re going to hold an open assembly on the coming 20 November: an open plenary session in which the idea is that the local areas show us where it makes sense to advance with the project. One of the ideas, for example, which has already come up in the local areas and which we have to discuss, is to have a group which enhances the visibility of the situation of migrants.

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