The inclusive basement cafe says it has sadly not survived the lockdown

Manchester is loved for so many reasons, its eternal artsiness being a major one. In the nineties, Afflecks, the Corn Exchange and their fringes offered a plethora of incense-scented, tie-dyed caffs where you could get a cheap brew and a slice of cheese on toast while putting the world to rights. 

Nexus was inclusive, welcoming and attracted a curious collection of folk

Nexus Art Cafe always had a whiff of that era about it. Opening in 2008, the basement cafe is adorned in an ever-changing mishmash of local art and sculpture including the famous papier-maché rat at its entrance. 

Well worn sofas that almost swallow you whole, mis-matched tables and jumble sale chairs fill the huge space where people come to work, revise, play nostalgic board games or enjoy a well priced, healthy lunch or perhaps a chocolate brownie with a brew - milk and sugar added yourself at the end of the counter. Used spoons in a glass of hot water. 

Its unpretentiousness is refreshing in a world of globalised coffee chains and desperate to be on-trend restaurants with contrived-cool decor. Nexus is also a not-for-profit organisation and a registered charity with an emphasis on offering a safe alcohol-and-drug-free space to socialise in day and night. 

There have always been regular meet ups and events here, for those looking for something a bit more wholesome than a night of heavy drinking - think life drawing classes, swing dancing and film screenings. A spiritual element is ticking away behind the scenes with regular meet-ups of Sanctus 1, a contemporary Christian community held there and an in-house pastor available for a chat if you're so inclined - but crucially with no judgement. 

Nexus is inclusive, welcoming and has always attracted a curious collection of folk. 

2018 11 27 Ged Austin Nexus Cafe Festival Event
Poets like Ged Austin found a home for events at Nexus

Unfortunately, it is places of this character and creativity with less emphasis on profit margins, more on people, that seem to be falling by the wayside in the fight to ‘save the economy.’ Nexus launched a public crowdfunding appeal in March to try and stay afloat and minimise redundancies but it has now unfortunately announced that these appeals have not been enough. 

An announcement on social media on Sunday 12th July confirmed that the cafe will be closing for the foreseeable future. 

The announcement included a hand written recipe for Nexus's famous chocolate brownies and was met with an outpouring of sorrow from the many Mancunians and visitors who have attended or held events or found the cafe a welcome haven over the years.

It's a great loss to the Northern Quarter whose foundations lie in these types of quirky, independent gems. The Northern Quarter is what it is because of small, creative businesses bringing life and real community focus to a previously neglected area - it would be very sad indeed if all that survived were those that moved in to profit from its popularity in more recent years. 

Update - Before publishing this piece, we reached out to Alastair Lowe of Nexus for comment. Alastair eventually got in touch to clarify that Nexus is closing but hopefully not permanently.

He said, “We are unfortunately making staff redundant due to COVID-related issues but we are taking this time to consolidate with a view to reopen when the situation improves. We don’t know when this will be but we hope and pray it won’t be too long.

“We are looking at some form of crowd funding to support the future reopening of the cafe side of the operation.”

When we receive any news about further crowdfunding endeavours, we'll let you know.

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