The Art Gallery of Ballarat has been chosen to deliver Victoria's premier Indigenous art awards program in 2013, the first time the awards will be held outside of Melbourne.
Speaking at the Art Gallery last night at a civic reception following yesterday's regional sitting of Parliament, Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu announced that the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards and the accompanying exhibition would move to Ballarat in 2013.
Mr Baillieu said the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards program was an annual celebration and showcase of Victoria's Indigenous visual artists.
"The awards were established by the Victorian Government in 2005 to raise the profile of our State's Indigenous artists and their work, and to promote the quality, diversity and distinct styles of Victorian Indigenous art," Mr Baillieu said.
"Since then our local Indigenous arts sector has developed significantly and Victorian Indigenous artists – including previous award winners and finalists – are becoming recognised nationally and internationally.
"The annual award exhibition has become an important showcase of contemporary Indigenous culture with works that range from traditional crafts to edgy contemporary themes and new media.
"Mr Baillieu said the program was a great fit for Ballarat Art Gallery which had a strong commitment to collecting and presenting Indigenous art.
"While this has been a strong focus of its acquisitions in recent years, the gallery has a longer history of collecting Indigenous art. In 1932 it acquired one of the earliest Aboriginal works to go into a public collection in Victoria, a watercolour by the great William Barak," Mr Baillieu said.
"It is fitting therefore that the Art Gallery of Ballarat will now be the first gallery outside Melbourne to host the State's premier Indigenous art awards program."
Mr Baillieu said the move to Ballarat was also great news for the awards program itself.
"Ballarat Art Gallery will be the largest and most prestigious exhibition venue for the awards to date, and the event will benefit greatly from the curatorial expertise and professionalism for which the Art Gallery of Ballarat is known."
Mr Baillieu described the Art Gallery of Ballarat as a major cultural asset for the region.
"It is the oldest and largest regional gallery in the country and its collection – which spans the history of Australian art – outshines the collections at some of the country's other capital city galleries," Mr Baillieu said.
"The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to supporting the Art Gallery of Ballarat, along with Her Majesty's Theatre, in partnership with the City, and we are delighted that the Gallery will add the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards to its offering in 2013."
The Art Gallery of Ballarat will announce full details of the 2013 Victorian Indigenous Art Awards, along with a call for entries, over the coming months.
The Awards will be presented in October 2013, with an accompanying exhibition of the finalist works.