"Whenever I see Livingston Biddle coming, I have my hand out," said Mayor Marion Barry with a smile at a press conference in the District Building yesterday. 'This time he brought some goodies.'

The goodies, which the mayor hastened to add were not "handouts," came from the National Endowment for the Arts -- which Biddle chairs -- in the form of $1.4 million worth of challenge grants to a variety of local arts groups.

Recipients ranged from the most prominent to grass-roots organizations, an unprecedented move for the federal agency, which in the past gave most of its prestigious challenge grants to big establishments like the National Symphony. The program, established in 1974, differs from the Endowment's other project grants in that it requires that recipients raise three dollars for every one granted.

Recipients were: the D.C. Foundation for Creative Space/Washington Center for the Arts and Humanities, the long title for the 26 groups that make up the planned Lansburgh project, $250,000; the Corcoran Gallery of Arts, $250,000; Folger Theatre Group, $175,000; the Wolf Trap Foundation, $400,000; the Washington Performing Arts Society, $100,000, and Workshops for Careers in the Arts (the fund-raising arm of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts), $250,000.

In a press conference attended by the Corcoran board chairman, David Lloyd Kreeger, the Wolf Trap Foundation's chairman, Doug Smith, the head of Washington Careers in the Arts, Jewel Shepperd, and Bibble and Barry, gratified recipients quoted poets and presidents (John F. Kennedy) on the arts.

"Everybody, everything, every discipline is represented," said Peggy Cooper, chair of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. "That as a city should make us very proud."