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General Assembly

The General Assembly or “GA” is the association’s highest shared governance authority and is constituted by representatives of its full member institutions

Cumulus full-members are expected to send their official representative (s) to attend the General Assembly on an annual basis. This is an opportunity for members to approve the main strategic objectives recommended by the President and Executive Board, approve the association’s annual budget, and endorse new institutional members.

Held annually in the 1st quarter of the calendar year, “extraordinary” sessions are held when the association has critical needs for members to vote.

Next General Assembly

June 16, 2022 – Virtual

Information to come.
The GA will conclude the service of CEB VII and hold the elections of CEB VIII.

Cumulus Legal Registration

Why the Time is Now

After 30 years of continued growth and success as an unregistered association under the legal framework of its founding host institution, Aalto University, Cumulus is ready to transition to becoming a legally registered association in Finland.

Registration Process & Member Engagement

The legal registration of Cumulus represents an important and necessary milestone. As the association continues to mature into a global academic entity, the registration will bring new opportunities for Cumulus to serve its members.

As a registered association, Cumulus will keep upholding its mission: to be a dynamic forum for knowledge exchange and best practices and a committed advocate for the positive role of designers and artists in shaping a better world.

Registration Process

The registration process represents a complex task. Because it will signify changes for the association short and longer-term, it has required deliberate study and multi-stakeholder member engagement that has not been straightforward nor easy.

Since December 2020, when CEB VII started the exploration process on registration, it has endeavored to conduct this critical task of its mandate of the legal registration in partnership with the Secretariat, Aalto University, and Finnish Legal Counsel. The following goals and priorities have guided this work:

  1. To safeguard Cumulus’ management and operations via the continuation of its current Secretariat at Aalto and to choose a legal jurisdiction, Finland, that honors the association’s legacy
  2. To examine potential risks of the legal registration (e.g. financial and tax implications, Board membership residency requirements, Board members’ personal liabilities, etc.)
  3. To ensure the amendments of the association’s statutes comply with legal registration in Finland, and do not introduce any changes to the mission, values, and aims of Cumulus, nor to its fundamental democratic governance and decision-making by all members via the General Assembly
  4. To finalize the hosting and service agreement terms of Cumulus with Aalto: Aalto University submitted a bid to negotiate this renewal through 2025; the grace period to renegotiate this agreement ends in June 2022.

Member Engagement

CEB VII updated all Cumulus members on the initial research it was carrying about registration in the General Assembly of June 2021. In the last quarter of 2021, CEB VII designed a participatory process for members to be informed of the registration decision and to ask clarifying questions as the work progressed.

As a result, members were invited to weigh in on the registration process during the following touchpoints:

  • 3 Open Member Town Halls invited broad member participation: two in December 2021 and one in February 2022 were recorded and made available to all registered members. Participation in each session accounted for approximately 19% percent and 20% of the total Cumulus membership for each session.
  • The Board registration sub-committee developed a comprehensive Q+A document to address critical registration issues based on questions and concerns by members.
  • An Extraordinary General Assembly was announced by CEB VII in February 2022 and scheduled for April 5. The EGA was planned around registration. Members were asked for two votes: 1) to vote on the registration in Finland and 2) to vote on the approval of amended statutes to comply with Finnish law. The April EGA approved the registration jurisdiction by majority vote. It failed to reach the ⅔ of quorum approval required to accept the amended statutes proposed.

Post EGA: Next Steps to Finalize Registration

Post EGA, the Board put in place with the Secretariat an actionable path forward plan to create an additional process of consultation and member participation that will culminate in a new vote by members in the upcoming General Assembly. The process is also intended to respond to the Open Letters addressed to the Board with requests by some members for further clarity on the registration.

This plan aims to generate a revised draft of the amended statutes that, hopefully, all members will confidently endorse and ultimately vote on to finalize the registration process. The timing is pressured for the association as CEB VII concludes its mandate and hands over the association to the next elected Board from June 16 onward.

The post-EGA consultative actions have included the design of a member survey to collect feedback and open workshops with Cumulus legal counsel to clarify the work done to date on the statutes.

Before the upcoming June General Assembly, members will be invited to review the new draft of the amended statutes and will be asked to vote to finalize the registration of Cumulus in Finland.

The approval by members of the next amended statutes’ draft is critical: it will ensure the legal registration of Cumulus. The registration will guarantee the association transitions smoothly into its legal state with its Secretariat and Aalto at its ongoing host through 2025.

Aalto University and Aalto ARTS are delighted to reinstate our will to host the Secretariat till the end of 2025, pending negotiations, which we expressed in 2019.

When starting the negotiations for a renewed service agreement between Cumulus and Aalto, it became apparent that the current legal structure of Cumulus– with regard to Cumulus’s global network and expanded financial operations – is problematic for both parties. For this reason, Aalto recognized that an independent registration is necessary before signing the new service agreement.

In my understanding, the Executive Board and the Secretary-General have carried out the preparation for this transformation seriously, respectfully, and with full responsibility for the Association.

Aalto University and Aalto ARTS sincerely hope that members accept the modified amendments of the statutes that will be presented in the General Assembly in June to enable the signing of the new agreement between Aalto and Cumulus.

Tuomas Auvinen
Dean, School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Aalto University – May 2022

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