The successful Washington CETA organization that places artists in jobs will receive $545,000 in funding to continue its program, the mayor's office confirmed yesterday. Ironically, the program -- called Arts D.C. -- had been so successful that it threatened to put itself out of business.

The money will fund 58 job-placement slots until Aug. 30. In the past, the Arts D.C. program has placed artists in galleries, schools, the Washington Ballet and the National Symphony Orchestra, to name a few.

"Arts D.C. is moving their trainees into permanent jobs as well that they deserved some consideration," said Mayor Marion Barry in a statement.

"We're trying here to maximize use of the CETA money," Barry said. "These artisans are the first hit when the public has less money to spend. Yet they're a highly skilled and highly trained group."

Because the city's CETA funds were drastically reduced when the current fiscal year began (October 1979), no CETA program was allowed to replace workers who finished their training terms or were hired. But enough funds were supplied to sustain those workers still on CETA rolls.

"Arts D.C. was one of our most successful vendors," said Mattie Taylor, acting deputy director. "Their rate of placing people off the CETA rolls was so high they were going to place themselves out of a program."

Arts D.C.'s executive director, Daniel Kiernan, said that by this May the rolls would have dropped to about 14 people.

"They complained to the mayor and we agreed it was unfair," said Taylor, who added that the group will be allowed to increase its rolls up to the original level.

Barry said in his statement that he had asked Taylor "to see if she could work something out."

Alumni of the Arts D.C. program include composer and playwright Tim Grundman and scene designer Russell Metheny. Violinist John Williams -- currently on a CETA grant with the D.C. Youth Orchestra -- is competing in the Kennedy Center's national Black Music Colloquium and Competition.

"We're very pleased," said Kiernan about the funds. "We're very sure that the city and the D.C. Labor Department have done everything they possibly can to support our program."