As Chautauqua-sponsored trip to the Soviet Union involving American performers, politicians and government officials is now scheduled for this fall. This conference follows a similar venture last summer, when Soviet officials and performers gathered at Chautauqua, N.Y., for debate and a cultural exchange. Now it's America's turn to send its own performers to entertain participants during the evening hours.

Among those going on the two-week trip: singer-actress Karen Akers; actor Ron Richardson, who recently appeared at the Kennedy Center in "Big River"; American Ballet Theatre dancers Patrick Bissell and Susan Jaffe; Christian Holder, former lead dancer with the Joffrey Ballet; violinist Eugene Fodor; and jazz musician Grover Washington Jr.

Conference director John Wallach says the performers will give four concerts: one in Leningrad, two in Moscow and one in Riga. "The Soviets have promised to put as much as possible on Soviet television," says Wallach.

Chautauqua, a center for the arts, culture and religion, was founded in the 19th century as a religious retreat.

Other news from the cultural exchange front: The Smithsonian announced last week that an exhibition of paintings from the Soviet Union, "Russia, the Land, the People: Russian Painting 1850-1910," will open Oct. 17 at the Renwick Gallery. Its counterpart, "New Horizons: American Painting, 1840-1910," travels to the Soviet Union in the fall of 1987.

Though it is not the first exchange of art between the two countries, the Smithsonian is still unwilling to surrender the exchange limelight to the National Gallery of Art, which has been showing works from the Soviet Union's Hermitage and Pushkin museums. So, Smithsonian Secretary Robert McC. Adams carefully points out in this recent announcement that it is the first exchange "not of foreign works in the collections of the two countries," but of works by native painters, since the United States and the Soviet Union signed a cultural exchange agreement last November.

AT&T is organizing "An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art," which will travel to the Soviet Union at an as yet unannounced date. Arts Ball Innovations

The arts ball has come back into fashion. It's just got a new twist. Last month, the Washington Project for the Arts held its "Ultramarine: A Phantasmic Undersea Carnival" 10th anniversary celebration at the Yale Steam Laundry building. The party's offbeat nautical theme challenged participants to wear everything from fish heads to fake seaweed. And, they did. Now, the older, more staid Arts Club of Washington is clearing the dust off an old Washington cultural tradition -- the Bal Bohe me. Tickets to the ball, June 14 at the James Monroe House, are $75.

After leading a moribund existence during the '70s, the Arts Club has begun sponsoring more exhibitions in its historic quarters in the James Monroe House on I Street. This year, the club celebrates its 70th year. Club officials are using the ball to kick off a fund drive they hope will raise enough money to restore the James Monroe House, which dates from 1802.

The Bal Bohe me was an annual event between 1924 and 1967. This year, the theme of the ball is "Pictures at an Exhibition." Guests can come as "anything," says Margaret Chidley, Arts Club member. "You can come as the subject of a painting, an artist or even a sculpture," says Chidley. Bill Carmichael, club vice president, says he is already expecting a "Nude Descending a Staircase" and Toulouse-Lautrec at the party. You may not see any fish heads at this one, but perhaps a Campbell's soup can will attend.

Judging costumes are: Lee Kimche McGrath, director of the State Department's Art-in-Embassies program; Warren Robbins, founder of the National Museum of African Art; and artist Jack Perlmutter. Terra-Cotta Talk

Ornamental architecture must finally be getting its due here. At the American Institute of Architects' Octagon House museum, "Louis H. Sullivan: Unison With Nature" runs through July 6. Meanwhile, at the fledgling National Building Museum, "Ornamental Architecture Reborn: A New Terra Cotta Vocabulary" opens June 25. It is both an historical examination of terra-cotta use and a look at contemporary buildings that incorporate the versatile, fireproof material. Highlighted in the exhibition are six modern examples of terra-cotta design that were chosen from a national competition sponsored by the Building Museum. But, as many have found out, the Pension Building that houses the museum is probably the best example of historic terra-cotta use: A 1,200-foot frieze depicting a Civil War-era military procession encircles the building. Odds and Ends

Fans of Sankai Juku, the Japanese dance-theater troupe opening Thursday at the Warner Theatre, can meet its members at 10 p.m. Wednesday at Perry's restaurant on Columbia Road in Adams-Morgan. It is not known whether the troupe will attend the party clad in their customary G-strings, bodies covered in rice flour . . . The Great Labor Song Exchange convened yesterday at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies in Silver Spring. It culminates with a free public concert of labor songs at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Ralph Fasanella's paintings are also on display there.