Really Useful Group chief executive André Ptaszynski has today been appointed to the board of the Royal National Theatre. In accepting the position - initially, for at least four years - Ptaszynski joins other recent NT board appointments including Ben Okri, Lola Young and Edward Walker-Arnott.

Prior to RUG, Ptaszynski was best known as the force behind Pola Jones, the West End production company he formed in 1981. Pola Jones commissioned and produced many new plays including, most recently, Tim Firth's Neville's Island and Jez Butterworth's Mojo at the Royal Court. Amongst the company's many accolades were five Best Musical awards (a mixture of Laurence Olivier and Evening Standard) in ten years. In addition to its theatre commitments, the company was also a major comedy promoter and produced five series of television sitcoms for the BBC and Channel 4.

In May 2000, Pola Jones ceased active trading when Ptaszynski was appointed to head up Andrew Lloyd Webber's newly formed Really Useful Theatre group. The new company - which bought out the West End holdings of Stoll Moss - now owns, runs and programmes 13 West End theatres including the London Palladium, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and all the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue.

Ptaszynski's previous positions include board membership of the Oxford Stage Company (from 1988 to 1998) and presidency of The Society of London Theatre (1996 to 1999). Prior to his career as a West End producer, he was associate director of the Crucible in Sheffield and held various positions in Farnham, Stoke-on-Trent and at The Royal Exchange, Manchester.

Sir Christopher Hogg, Chairman of the Board, said today: "I warmly welcome the deep experience of the theatre world that André will bring to the Board. He will be a great addition at a particularly busy time for the Board."

One of the biggest tasks that confront the NT board is finding a replacement for artistic director Trevor Nunn whose tumultuous five-year term comes to a close in September 2002. It was officially announced in April that Nunn would not be renewing his contract and that the search had begun for a successor, although that position will not be publicly advertised. Contenders rumoured to be under consideration include Nicholas Hytner, John Caird, former Royal Court director Stephen Daldry, Donmar Warehouse director Sam Mendes and the West Yorkshire Playhouse's Jude Kelly.

- by Terri Paddock