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January 9, 2013

Traverse City Opera House show benefits WRC

Six-event series brings music to downtown at noon on Tuesdays

TRAVERSE CITY — Producers of the first "Miriam Pico Picnic at the Opera" variety show didn't need their "applause" sign.

The 75 to 100 people who crowded around tables Tuesday in the reception area of the City Opera House's second floor needed no coaxing when it came to clapping for the live show, which was filmed and aired simultaneously by UpNorthTV Channels 97 & 992, Traverse City's public-access cable station, to raise money for the Women's Resource Center.

"I was surprised by the turnout," said organizer Joe VanderMeulen, an organizer of the six bring-your-bag-lunch variety shows to be held on consecutive Tuesdays, at noon, at the Opera House through Feb. 12. The shows benefit area nonprofits.

The picnic earned $627 for the Women's Resource Center.

"It's a big experiment to see if a bunch of nonprofits could pull it off," said VanderMeulen, executive director of the Land Information Access Association.

LIAA is a nonprofit community service group formed in 1993. LIAA focuses on using technology to increase civic engagement while helping communities and local governments become more sustainable.

"We're trying to make public-access TV a greater service to the community and also reflect a part of what the community is about," he added.

The public access stations operates under LIAA's umbrella.

Tuesday's show will be replayed on the cable stations later this week and also can be streamed and watched on the cable station's website: www.upnorthmedia.org. Pico, entertainers, interview subjects and crew volunteered their services.

"Hey everybody, I'm Miriam Pico at the Opera House," Pico said as she walked onto the set and the show began. "I'm hanging out today with David Chown at the piano, poet Michael Delp and Miss Courtney Hanley, who was a National Cherry Festival queen."

The live audience munched on sandwiches, sliced red pepper, hummus, cherry tomatoes, chips, apples, pretzels and other foods.

Additional guests on the first show included singers Blake Elliot and E Minor, Traverse City painter Charlie Murphy and Jo Bullis, executive director of the Women's Resource Center.

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