The Challenge


How might we better celebrate and amplify our arts and cultural assets?

Imagine you fly into Miami, get in a cab, and the driver knows you’re there for Art Basel. Or you fly into New York, and the cabbie knows you’re in town to see the Guggenheim and a Broadway show. Atlanta has a rich, vibrant arts scene, but still, all we’re known for is traffic and heat. So how do we make the arts a bigger part of our identity? How can we as a city become known for arts and culture?

Read the challenge summary | Join the conversationary  |  Submit your ideas

The People

Meet the people who are helping make the (co)lab LABS a reality. They represent the outstanding leaders, brilliant creators, and powerful storytellers in the Atlanta region, and we’re so excited to see all that they can accomplish when working in tandem.


Lab Leader

Gregory Burbidge

Senior Program Specialist, Atlanta Regional Commission

Gregory Burbidge is a Senior Program Specialist at the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). Having joined ARC when it absorbed the work of his former employer, the Metro Atlanta Arts & Culture Coalition (MAACC), Burbidge is currently working to build a program around the ARC board’s vision of a regional focus on arts and culture planning. He also manages the Emerging Arts Leaders of Atlanta program. In the last two years the program has created more than 100 mentor opportunities, facilitated regular professional development events and hosted successful annual Creative Conversations events. Prior to joining ARC, Burbidge served as the Research & Operations Manager for MAACC, an organization dedicated to awareness and advocacy for arts and culture issues in metro Atlanta.



Lab Chair

Lena Carstens

LEAD Atlanta ’06, Program Manager, Arts in Education, City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs

Lena Carstens joined the City of Atlanta in 2011 and serves as the Program Manager of Arts and Education Services for the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Her programs include Cultural Experience Project and Contracts for Arts Services. Lena holds an MBA and an MA in Arts Administration from SMU in Dallas, TX. With over 15 years of experience in Performing Arts Management, Lena’s experience spans from stage management on Broadway to Managing Director at Dad’s Garage Theatre. Lena was one of 10 young professionals to receive the Outstanding Atlanta award for community impact in 2010, and she remains an active alum with LEAD Atlanta Class of 2006. Lena and her husband live in East Cobb with their two small children.

Creative Team

Iris Worldwide

Anna Lee, Marketing Strategist
Ashley Grice, Public Health Strategist
Simon Candy, Creative Director
Grant Weber, Senior Copywriter
Lauren Colley, Social Strategist

Iris Worldwide – The Global Creative Innovation Network. Built for the networked age, we’re more flexible, diverse and entrepreneurial than the companies that came before us. We’re for the ambitious, the challengers, those who aspire to be extraordinary.