The not-for-profit art and community cafe with a difference – and a bath downstairs


When you’ve been up since 5am or shopping for hours in the Arndale, finding the right place to rest your sore feet and unwind will no doubt be top of your list.

For some people, a nice massage or trip to the spa is the best option. But a quicker and cheaper alternative is to head to a nice café. Getting comfy with a £2 skinny latte often seems to do a lot of good.

Nexus Art Café, a creative space down a flight of stairs in the Northern Quarter, does just the job.

It serves food and shows art from 11am to 5pm every day and it’s pretty easy to get attached to.

“Nexus is what you might call a ‘fresh-expressioner’ church. It’s been set up by the Methodist and Anglican churches – a way of doing church in a non-traditional way.”

So says the man in charge. His name is Rev. Alistair Lowe but you can call him Al.

According to statistics, around 55% of the population is Christian but just 5% go to church. Church ain’t working too well, and they want to help build a positive community in Manchester.

It doesn’t matter if you’re not a Christian, religious, or spiritual person, Nexus is such a relaxing and creative environment for everyone.

Al’s been in charge for about eight years, although the day-time café started nine years ago. Nexus was invented not too long after we entered the noughties, and before it was a day-time café it worked as one during the night.

Working with their three cornerstones of creativity, community and spirituality, they look to support the needs of so many people in the city.

Outside café hours, a mix of events are hosted at the venue. Breakfast yoga takes place before the café opens on a Thursday and there are life drawing sessions twice a month in the evenings.

Al explained that a man called Ben Edson started the scheme of things after being commissioned by the Church of England.

“He came and set up after being gifted this space that wasn’t being used at the time. He set it up as a night café to engage with adults who were vulnerable because of the use of alcohol and drugs.”

As you probably guessed, Nexus Art Café is very much free of alcohol but offers a good, friendly service of decent food and drink. Creativity continues during their café hours too as art by local emerging artists is always on display.

A wide variety of furniture coated with colour plays a positive game too, and there’s plenty to choose during the working week. Ikea sofas have claimed their space, laptops sit well among many tables, and on brighter days you can catch some light in the garden area.

All sorts of events take place at Nexus, and new ones are always welcomed. The venue can hired for just £30/hour. They even have a PA system to cater for your needs on stage.

As I was leaving, the minister pointed out an old prop by the bottom of the stairs that proved relaxation and creativity won’t ever wander away from this unusual, underground venue.

“The bath outside – that came from a play somebody put on in here. They never took it away and it just lives here now.”

3 Dale Street, Northern Quarter


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