Into the Community: The Director

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By Alex Cate


Through acting, singing and dancing, Steve Ray is helping improve the lives of Chattanooga’s homeless population.

Ray volunteers with a safe haven ministry run by the Salvation Army that offers refuge to the homeless during the day while shelters are closed. The ministry, ReCreate Café, also focuses on the social and spiritual needs of homeless men and women by offering acting and arts classes and theatre productions.

“I think it’s important for artists to give back to the community,” said Ray, a professor and interim head of theatre and speech at UT Chattanooga. “Arts have a healing effect, and I like seeing how theatre can affect change within a community.”


Ray has been supporting the technical needs of the arts program for several years and recently served as music director for the production of Godspell. The cast included homeless actors from the community.

The production sold out every performance, and was so successful that the cast was called upon to perform for Dr. Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, when he visited Chattanooga.

The experience sparked interest in how other communities could produce something similar, and Ray and some his colleagues were asked to serve on a panel to share what they learned with other theatre professionals.

“We created our own community there, and it was a beautiful thing,” he said. In addition to his work at the Salvation Army, Ray also has been a director and scenic designer for the Chattanooga Theatre Centre and Chattanooga’s Destiny Theatre and worked with middle school students on the Muse Fire Project.