Robinson and Cole

Feeding the Dragon

Production Sponsor Spotlight: Robinson+Cole LLP

An Interview with Eric Daniels, Managing Partner

By Nicholas Denninger, Development Apprentice 

Eric Daniels

Robinson+Cole has quite an extensive giving history with Hartford Stage. How did it all start?

I became managing partner of the firm in 2000, and it’s my recollection that the giving started about that time. So, with our upcoming sponsorship of Feeding the Dragon, this will mark 18 years in a row that Robinson+Cole has chosen to support one of the productions at Hartford Stage. In general, our firm has a long history of giving back to the community. In recent years, a particular focus of those efforts has been the arts community here in Hartford. We recognize the importance of a vibrant arts community to all the things that we’re trying to do in downtown Hartford, whether that’s attracting new businesses, keeping existing businesses, encouraging them to expand, or attracting new residents downtown.

From our perspective, people sometimes say, “Well, what’s the business prerogative?” A vibrant arts community, as part of a broader vibrant community, we think helps us recruit and retain our talent. A business like ours is a service business, so it’s all about our people; and so we’re proud supporters of not just Hartford Stage, but the arts scene in general.

What attracted you to Feeding the Dragon?

For almost all of the 18 years that Robinson+Cole has been involved with Hartford Stage as a production sponsor, we’ve also tied our support to additional support for a community partner. In recent years, we’ve gotten particularly thoughtful about how the production itself matches with one of our community partners. Last year that worked particularly well with the show The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, for which we partnered with the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Leonard Pelkey’s anti-bullying message fit very nicely with NCCJ’s mission and purpose.

This year, when we reviewed the shows that were going to be offered as part of the current season, part of what was appealing to us about Feeding the Dragon was the focus on reading and literacy, particularly from a child’s perspective. Children’s literacy and education have been focal points of our community efforts as well, and so we saw a natural tie-in to what we saw as the message of this show with some of our community efforts. For this particular show, we’ve chosen to partner with the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. In recent years, one of their key focus areas in this community has been early childhood literacy, and that seemed to be such a nice fit and theme with Sharon Washington’s story as it’s portrayed in Feeding the Dragon.

Is there a specific personal or corporate connection that Robinson+Cole has to childhood literacy?

Just broadly stated, when we look at the things in the community that we support, many of those things tend to be in the areas of children, families, and education. So, there was a really nice fit here between the theme of this show and things that our lawyers and staff already embrace in terms of their individual outreach, such as helping children learn how to read and improving their reading skills. We have staff members here who are volunteer readers as part of the United Way’s children’s literacy program. So again, it just seemed like a natural fit.

One of the things that we do during one night of the run of the performance is that we will have a pre-show reception with some invited guests. During the reception, we’ll make a presentation of a contribution to the United Way in furtherance of their efforts with regards to early childhood literacy.

What about Hartford Stage inspires Robinson+Cole to give and to continue giving?

I think we appreciate the creativity that is embodied in the arts in general and in the work of Hartford Stage, in particular. As lawyers, we have to bring creativity to our work product, so there’s some connection and appreciation for the creativity that takes place on your stage across the street from our offices. We also pride ourselves – as part of our strategic plan – on being innovative, and I think with regard to the arts, Hartford Stage has been an innovative organization. Certainly that spirit has continued under Darko Tresnjak’s leadership. So, I think there are a lot of similarities between how Darko and Hartford Stage approach its work and how we like to think we approach our work. So that, coupled with our desire to be good corporate citizens and to give back to the communities in which we work and live, makes this a natural partnership for us.