VICTORIA'S most prestigious Indigenous Australian art awards are set to come to the Art Gallery of Ballarat from 2013.
It will be the first time the annual Victorian Indigenous Art Awards and exhibition have been held outside of Melbourne.
Premier and Arts Minister Ted Baillieu announced the coup to members of the city's arts community and local leaders at a civic reception at the gallery on Thursday.
"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."
Mr Baillieu said Ballarat's gallery was chosen to host the Indigenous showcase because of its significant commitment to 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," he said.
"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."
The awards will be presented in October 2013 with an accompanying exhibition of finalists to be presented.
Art Gallery of Ballarat director Gordon Morrison said he looked forward to working with Arts Victoria to present the awards and exhibition.
"I see this as recognition of the effort that this Gallery has put into supporting Indigenous Art in recent years," Mr Morrison said.
"When the Premier made the announcement he was in a room where contemporary indigenous art features very strongly and just downstairs there is another exhibition featuring work by Marlene and Deanne Gilson, mother and daughter artists who happen to members of the Wathaurung people, the traditional custodians of the land here.