The R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire, the actress Sally Field, the singer Linda Ronstadt and the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas will receive Kennedy Center Honors in December for their lifetime achievements in the arts, the cultural center announced on Thursday.

“Sesame Street,” which is celebrating 50 years on the air this year, will also receive an award, making it the second time the Kennedy Center is bestowing the honor on a work of art rather than an individual. (“Hamilton,” recognized last year, was the first.) It is the first honor bestowed to a television program, the center said.

“We started thinking about what it would be like here in this 50th anniversary year for ‘Sesame Street,’ and it was a runaway hit with the selection committee,” Deborah F. Rutter, the president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, said in an interview. “It really felt right to do this for ‘Sesame Street.’”

The gala, to be held on Dec. 8, is an annual high point for Washington and the cultural community.

Joan Ganz Cooney - I am thrilled to toast Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyed Morrisett at Kennedy Center Honors!
Joan Ganz Cooney, a cofounder with Lloyd Morrisett of Children’s Television Workshop (later named Sesame Workshop), with some “Sesame Street” characters in 2009. The cofounders will be accepting the award in December. Credit…Bryan Bedder/Getty Images