Mildred Bautista, yesterday named cultural adviser to D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, is 32 years old. Bautista's age was given as 42 in a profile in Wednesday's Washington Post. Bautista confirmed yesterday she had told a Post interviewer that she was 42, but said she was "only kidding."

Larry Neal, who resigned last month as executive director of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, is a poet, playwright and essayist.

His successor is Mildred Bautista-a management consultant whose favorite administrative word is "synthesize," and who prides herself on skills in what she calls "crisis management."

Bautista, 42, is a key figure in Mayor Marion Barry's new arts team to be introduced at a press conference today. Peggy Cooper, whom Barry chose as chairman of the arts commission, is clearly to be the quarterback; but Milred Bautista will have to carry the bal.

Her official title will be "Cultural Adviser to the Mayor." Cooper says that means Bautista will assume control of the commission. And she will probably succeed Neal on an official basis when he leaves, which he has said will be at the end of July.

Bautista arrived in Washington in 1972. One of her clients, beginning in 1975, was a think tank, the Washington Center for Metropolitan Studies. The center gave her the task of managing a conference, and then a series of forums, on the local arts scene. These gab sessions led to the creation of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington, a service organization for local arts groups.

Last fall she became involved in the mayor's transition team report on the arts.She will soon be directing the commission that was heavily critcized in that report.

According to Cooper, "Millie will be in charge on a day-to-day basis. I will be in charge of giving consistent leadership, which I can only do with the support of the rest of the commission."

Bautista, was born in the Philippines, the daughter of a Spanish-heritage mother and a black father "with Asian eyes." Her native language is Pangasina, which she describes as "halfway between Spanish and Chinese."

Her father had already worked as a migrant laborer in the U.S. and returned with his family when Bautista was a baby. She grew up on a farm in northern California.

Bautista moved to Washington as a management consultant in partnership with her second husband. The Arlington schools were among their clients, and in this capacity she first met Marion Barry, when he was head of the D.C. school board.

Her third husband is Colin Walters, Barry's assistant city administrator for financial management. They're both naturalized citizens; he's from Britain. Bautista says "a high priority" of her new job will be to have "a good session with the D.C. financial management office, to see how to track checks" through the city bureaucracy. "The checks (to commission grant winners) can be processed a lot more quickly than the commission has been doing."

As an arts administrator, Bautista's tendency is to concentrate on emerging organizations, she says. But as as arts consumer, because of early training as a pianist, her tastes run to Schubert and lieder, plus exotic ethnic music.

Bautista thinks the commission should be run by someone "with administrative expertise and artistic sensitivities." It must be remembered, she says, that the commission is a "service entity," not an art organization.

One of her specialties, she says, is "to bring people together with overloads of creativity and make it all doable.The administrator's role is often that of scaling down without compromising the goals."

Is the commission in need of her "crisis management" skills? "Let's just say some of the needs of the arts community are reaching crisis proportions, and the response of the agencies hasn't grown nearly as rapidly as the needs.