DUT’s DigiFest aims to support students to become independent entrepreneurs

The Faculty of Arts and Design at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) is hosting the 8th annual DigiFest from 19 to 21 October 2021, which will be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on the exciting, forthcoming virtual event, Jodie du Plessis, DigiFest Manager said the aim of the DigiFest event is to promote collaborative practices (creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship) in art, design, and technology.

She relayed that this is achieved through the following objectives which are to showcase and facilitate creative projects that incorporate interdisciplinary skills and digital technologies; to interrogate the transformative vision of the future in arts and design fields, and to demonstrate the economic significance of digital skills and technologies.

She indicated that this years’ theme is ‘UNMASKED’ which conveys the notion of using peoples’ experiences during the pandemic to unleash creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship to solve problems after the pandemic.

“This theme has been sub-categorised into two main ideas: reflections through creative works of interdisciplinary, creative, and innovative perspectives during the initial COVID-19 spread; and future imaginings through creative works that capture the future of design, technology, and innovation since the pandemic. We are anticipating participation by a range of local and international industry professionals and a plethora of internal and external submissions for this year’s event,” she said.

She further communicated that at DUT, they (FoAD) are extremely proud of the quality of work produced by the staff and students; therefore, they are putting a spotlight on proudly DUT-produced works.

“This is a collaboration of the departments within the Faculty of Arts and Design, as well as with other Faculties and Departments from DUT that centre on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Nevertheless, DigiFest is an annual event that occurs in the international sphere; therefore, we are also collaborating with external industry partners and other universities on a national and international level,” she said.

Du Plessis also added that the virtual nature of the event has significantly extended its reach to international participants and viewers. She gave some insight into the types of exhibitions to expect to see at the virtual DigiFest.

“We are organising an exciting array of events that will be sure to whet everyone’s appetites, including virtual exhibitions; online keynote speeches and panel discussions by respected industry professionals; virtual demonstrations and workshops; online performances; and virtual installations and displays. There are different categories of awards for individual and group works,” she said.

Du Plessis conveyed that the plenary sessions (e.g. talks/presentations by guest/invited speakers, panel discussions, and roundtable discussions) form the main part of the DigiFest event.

“However, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality workshops and demonstrations by DUT Departments and notable organisations will also be provided to selected students to draw them in to study further and to encourage entrepreneurship. Those selected students that participate will be given certificates afterward,” she said excitedly.

She indicated that the virtual exhibitions, installations, and displays are always the main attraction at DigiFest each year; and with the use of live sessions, pre-recorded activities, 360-degree videos, virtual gallery experiences, and online training workshops, they (FoAD) are sure to attract an enormous viewership that will surpass last year’s.

“The use of the DigiFest website in 2020 to virtually exhibit the works helped us to attract 775 page views in a 20-day period. And during the three days of the event, the live-streaming of the plenary sessions on Microsoft Teams and YouTube got us an additional 903 views. These are numbers we are confident we will surpass this year,” she said.

At this year’s Digifest, there are also preparations being made for an array of upbeat, informative, and revitalising activities to supplement the main events, including live-streamed and pre-recorded interviews, presentations, guided activities, and performances.

“We (FoAD)  are collaborating with other Faculties and Departments, such as Sports Studies, Chiropractic, and Somatology to provide quick and fun activities that will get you off your seat, stretching your body and engaging in self-care. We are also collaborating with internal and external musicians, artists, and dancers to provide captivating performances that also convey ‘UNMASKED’, which will allow participants and views a chance to have a break between events,” she said.

Du Plessis also stressed that in addition to the virtual event, there will be inspiring interviews and mini-workshops with a focus on mental health, unmasking, and goal setting which will add to the holistic array of events one can expect at the 2021 DigiFest.

Dr. Dianna Moodley, Research Coordinator from the Faculty of Arts and Design said this joint venture between the Executive Dean and the Research Office, aligns precisely with DUT’s ENVISION2030 intent and strategic perspectives of society and sustainability, towards ‘improving lives and livelihoods.’

“The event provides a dynamic platform for our students to showcase their creative and innovative competencies, while at the same time exposing them to lucrative opportunities for viable and available alternatives to a shrinking job market, especially within the current economic volatility. We want our students to recognise that their only option should not solely be employment within the public or private sector – we aim to support students to become self-sustained and independent entrepreneurs,” she said.


For further enquiries, kindly email the Digifest Manager: digifest@dut.ac.za.


Pictured: Digifest picture

Waheeda Peters