Bernstein100Austin gives grants to 31 nonprofit collaborators

Merick Strategies-produced production of MASS the largest arts event in Austin history

The unprecedented, beyond-expectations success of Bernstein100Austin, the groundbreaking Austin production of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers more than two years in the making, has made it possible for the producers to give grants from the proceeds to 31 of the nonprofit collaborators, producers Merick Strategies announced today.

The production was the largest arts collaboration in the city’s history, involving more than 300 local performing artists and production experts, a year of events (in Austin, around the country, and as far away as Australia), hundreds of sponsors and donors, a thousand students and family members (who attended a special dress rehearsal), and nearly 5,000 people who packed the Long Center for two nights of sold-out performances June 29 and 30.

Maestro Peter Bay, music director and conductor of the Austin Symphony, had a dream to conduct MASS dating to 1971, when, as a 14-year-old, he saw the original MASS at the Kennedy Center’s debut.

Mela Sarajane Dailey, Grammy-winning soprano, founder of Merick Strategies, and Bay’s spouse, brought her husband’s dream to life.

“We didn’t intend or expect to have proceeds from Bernstein100Austin,” Dailey says. “All the decisions made along the way were to achieve the best artistic result and to give paid work to the largest possible number of artists. We couldn’t be more thrilled that because of the tremendous response and attendance that we are able to give back to our amazing collaborators,” Dailey says.

Bay says: “I am very proud of our production of MASS, and especially grateful to Merick Strategies and all who supported this endeavor. That we can give back to so many non-profits in Austin and beyond makes the memories of the performances linger in a most meaningful way.”

Leonard Bernstein’s daughter and son Jamie and Alexander Bernstein attended Bernstein100Austin, and Jamie Bernstein sent a letter to Peter expressing how much the performance meant to the family, saying in part: “You did a Big Thing. And it was beautiful. Alexander and I were so moved by the performance, last night especially—and every bit as moved by the effort and collaboration of the Austin community. Our dad would have LOVED IT. It was everything he meant.”

The Bernstein100Austin production itself cost more than a million dollars, and also resulted in the largest single payday for artists and staff for a production at the Long Center.

Grants to the nonprofits were supplemented by additional donations by Merick Strategies, personal gifts by Merick founder Dailey and co-founder Rick Gabrillo, and by members of The Ambassador Alliance, a group of community leaders formed to make B100Austin a reality and who will continue to support important cultural work in Austin and beyond. The amount of all grants totaled more than $116,000, with approximately a quarter of the dollars coming from the event’s net proceeds.

All but two—the African Children’s Choir and Artful Learning (of which Leonard Bernstein’s son Alexander is president)— of the nonprofits receiving grants are based in Austin.

Nonprofits receiving grants are:

According to Dailey, there are many more unexpected and serendipitous positive results flowing from the remarkable success of MASS. Merick Strategies, formed in 2015 for the express purpose of producing B100Austin, will next produce an even larger event, a music festival to be held across New York City’s most iconic venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in 2020.

In addition, as a result of their involvement with the MASS collaborators, several of the original donors comprising The Ambassador Alliance have become more involved with Austin nonprofits.

Founded by Mela Sarajane Dailey and Rick Gabrillo, Merick Strategies is a consulting and production firm with expertise in large-scale performances, special events, fundraising, and uniting the corporate and nonprofit sectors in unique and exciting partnerships while simultaneously benefiting the communities they call home. For more information, visit