An official of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church has confirmed rumors that the church is funding the start-up of a ballet companyin Washington, but will say little else. "Yes, we're starting a ballet company," was all Paul Herman, spokesman for the Unification Church, would admit. "If the person who's working on it wants to discuss it, he'll call you."

Renovation News

After all the controversy about the opening and closing times of the Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress, the point will be moot soon. The room will be closed for renovation for a year starting Dec. 9. Book and reference assistance will be moved to other reading rooms, principally the Local History and Genealogy Reading Room in the Jefferson Building and the Social Science Reading Room in the Adams Building. The library is encouraging the public to use local and academic libraries before heading there ...

Meridian House International put on an elegant soiree last week to celebrate the tearing down of a wall. It might seem a lame excuse for a party, but the celebration was for the consolidation of Meridian House property and the adjoining property at 1624 Crescent Place NW, which will become an expansion of the intercultural meeting place and museum. An arch has been cut in the brick wall between the properties, and the area will be landscaped to join the two plots esthetically. The renovation will be finished in 10 months ...

And, finally, the Alcoa Foundation of Pittsburgh has given $39,500 to the Folger Shakespeare Library to restore the aluminum grillwork on its building. Made between 1929 and 1932, the grillwork on the doors and windows is a dominant feature of the building's exterior. Alcoa also is helping the library determine the best way to repair the decorative aluminum.

Other News Bites

A fact to get lost in history: The first visitors to enter the depths of the two new Smithsonian museums were Irving Kushner, a Washington, D.C., antique shop owner, in the Sackler Gallery; and government attorney Ronald Branch in the National Museum of African Art ...

A local museum is going Down Under. The Phillips Collection has sent "Old Masters -- New Visions: Giorgione to Rothko" to Australia until next May, starting at the Australian National Gallery in Sydney. The exhibition is made up mostly of works from a previous Phillips show, "Impressionism and the Modern Vision," which traveled the United States from 1981 to 1983.

Movies on Art

"He's the most important avant-garde director in America today," says Kelly Gordon, film programmer of the Hirshhorn Museum. Strong praise, and you can see if it's true when the museum screens "Robert Wilson and the CIVIL warS," a film about the backstage life of the performance artist who in addition to "CIVIL warS" produced "Einstein on the Beach." The free Washington premiere showings will be on Thursday at noon and 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.

Latin America Comes to D.C.

Visitors from the southern Americas proliferate in Washington this week.

Today and tomorrow, Elvia Alvarado, a leader of one of the most active peasant unions in Honduras, will speak on her experiences fighting for land reform and the effect of the U.S. military presence in the region, which she has chronicled in her new book, "Don't Be Afraid, Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks From the Heart." Alvarado will appear at a reception today at 5:30 p.m. and a seminar tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. at the Institute for Policy Studies. Call 234-9382.

The third Latin American Book Fair will take place Oct. 9-11 at the Van Ness campus of the University of the District of Columbia. The exposition will have new, used and out-of-print books covering the humanities in Latin America. Also on the bill are films, panel discussions and children's programs. The highlight of the program is a speech by Mexican novelist, Carlos Fuentes, on Friday night at 6. Call 282-7538.

Poets Carolyn Forche' and Claribel Alegria are also in town for the book fair. They will conduct a reading at the IAM Hall at 1300 Connecticut Ave. NW at 8 p.m. Thursday. Alegria is an exiled Salvadoran writer who speaks out on human rights violations in her country. Forche', an American, has immersed herself in the politics of the region, winning awards for her book about El Salvador, "The Country Between Us." Call 234-9382.

Poet Watch

Two good choices for poetry this week; one traditional, the other avant-garde:

Tonight, new Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Richard Wilbur will open the Library of Congress' literary season with a reading at 8 in the Coolidge Auditorium. No tickets are required, and the audience is invited to a reception with him afterward.

And on Saturday, musician Wayson Jones and poet Essex Hemphill will have three shows, at 10 p.m., midnight and 1:30 a.m., at d.c. space. Using music and words, the two create often angry works on contemporary issues.