A report this week from UK legal firm Olswang makes encouraging reading for the industry. Its annual consumer survey found that, for all the wider demand for choice and control, the theatre remained the place to see a movie.

That's something to celebrate and even the pessimists would have to conclude there is life in the old girl yet. What audiences want is the cinema 'experience' - further improvements in digital cinema and particularly 3D should further convince them that, however fancy the kit in the living room, it's about 20ft and one dimension short of an 'experience'.

It's always worth reminding people of the simplest advantage of theatres over the home - it's located somewhere other than the home.

The analogy with sport and music is clear: the domestic (and mobile) viewing experience has improved beyond all recognition from even just a few years ago, yet attendances at matches and concerts has soared. In an age of mass reproduction, the pursuit of 'authentic' experience is ever greater.

To sustain that place, however, new customers have to be found and that isn't a trick that arthouse cinema finds easy. It is easy for even well-reviewed films to make a fleeting appearance on a few screens and then sink into obscurity - not because they weren't good enough but because they simply were not around to long enough to catch the eye.

If there is a mortal danger it comes not from economic downturn or boredom but from invisibility. How can cinema find a new generation of enthusiasts'

Way back when, the exposure would have come from television. In Europe, in particular, your Godards and Pasolinis came to most people's attention thanks to a decent slot on one of probably two or three channels. Now finding arthouse film serendipitously on much of the world's television requires Indiana Jones-style digging and a bad case of insomnia.

It has become a cliche to point out that the economic role of cinema is as a marketing tool for more lucrative DVD release.

But it is a one-way street. What theatres need to uncover new audiences for specialist film is for other media to create audiences that will then become cinema-goers.

Online marketing and social networking, for example, ought to be high up the specialist industry agenda. Creating and nurturing a community of interest in film might generate new interest and in a way that young consumers understand.

Creating venues that feel welcoming and contemporary rather than dusty temples is another obvious way to appeal to a new generation.

Most of all, it is crucial to work with television and new video-on-demand platforms but here is where we enter difficult territory.

There's no point pretending that release windows are not an issue in increasing visibility of independent film. The debate about them may sometimes look like it's about a grand point of principle but the reality is that, however understandable, it is protectionism from one part of the business.

As it happens, the current position is fairly comfortable for most studio output. Windows of four months or so seem to represent mutual interest most of the time for theatres and big franchises with their giant marketing budgets and huge ancillary releases.

At the other end of the scale, the marketing budget cannot bridge the release gap and if box office is strong, piracy will take a disproportionate piece of the action.

Recent experiments with day-and-date arthouse releases in the UK from Curzon Artificial Eye and BSkyB suggest new audiences can be found without crushing admissions, and opposition from big chains looks heavy handed.

Without efficient distribution, the cream cannot rise to the top; without non-theatrical exposure, new audiences will be lost; and without fresh blood, cinema will fail.

It is time that the invisibility debate came to the fore, even at the cost of opening uncomfortable discussions.