Liz Harper

The Beatles to Einstein – Documenting Performance at the Royal Albert Hall

In July 2015 the Royal Albert Hall made public for the first time in its history, a complete database of every performance to have taken place on its main stage and the smaller venues around the iconic building. This has led to what is believed to be, the creation of the world’s most extensive venue performance database

The performance database project took four years to complete and was tasked with how to best capture the essence of the nationally and internationally important performances (sport, politics, music, drama, circus, art, magic, religion, spoken word…) that have taken place at the Hall since it was opened in 1871. Using Axiell Calm software, the Hall’s performances (45,000+) are documented in great detail – everything from ticket price, setlist, time, date, main performers, choirs, orchestras, layout, royals in attendance, and related archival material is captured.

Links lead through to biographies of the performers for each event – 20,000+ such biographies are held. The performance database is also linked to a Digital Asset Management System (Thirdlight) so that digitised images of the performance taken from the Hall’s archive collections of photographs, programmes, posters, and handbill can help to bring to life the performance documentation.

Such documentation of performance is invaluable for the Hall commercially but also historically and socially – we can engage with artists and visitors, answer enquiries from press and the public, and shape our core programming and education & outreach work, creating life-enriching unforgettable experiences for everyone.

Liz Harper: Liz has been working in London as an archivist for a decade, since qualifying in Archives Management at UCL. For the last five years, she has been head of the Royal Albert Hall’s archive team, with the main purpose being to establish an archive at the Hall for the first time in its 146 years, and document its history of performance. Liz is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Performing Arts Collections (APAC) and is working to bring alive the RAH’s performance history in time for its 150th birthday in 2021.